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Mulhall: I’ve Grown As A Captain And So Has The Team

Mulhall: I’ve Grown As A Captain And So Has The Team

Regardless of how the Ireland Women fare against England in today’s Rugby World Cup Sevens opener in San Francisco (kick-off 12.12pm local time/8.12pm Irish time) (live on eir Sport 1/live streaming on www.worldrugby.org in certain countries/highlights on ITV 4), it promises to be a memorable occasion for Lucy Mulhall.

Lucy Mulhall will become just the second Irish player to captain her country at a Women’s Sevens World Cup tournament, following in the footsteps of 2013 skipper Claire Molloy who led the girls in green to Cup quarter-final and Plate semi-final appearances in Moscow.

Before entering the IRFU’s Sevens Programme just over three years ago, Mulhall was best known as a fledgling Ladies Gaelic football star for her native county Wicklow. However, within months of switching codes, she was handed a key leadership role by Anthony Eddy, the Union’s Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby.

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While she considers it a tremendous honour to be leading Ireland on the world stage, Mulhall believes strong characters can be found throughout the squad, saying: “It’s incredible (to captain your country). It’s not something I have really thought about too much. It is an incredible honour and it’s something that I got asked to do when I was very early into the squad.

“So, as one of the least experienced players when I did get the captaincy, I’ve learned a lot from the girls around me, who have been around rugby for so long. They’ve kinda helped me, and together we have grown as a team. I like to think there’s nearly seven captains out on the pitch at any one time.”

It was actually Mulhall’s exploits on the GAA field that convinced IRFU Seven coach Stan McDowell, who remains a pivotal figure within the Ireland Sevens set-up, to offer her a trial at the Amsterdam Sevens tournament in 2015.

The 24-year-old admits it was a big decision to move away from a sport that she feels so passionately about – she was an All-Ireland Junior title winner with Wicklow all of seven years ago – and it would not have been possible without the support of those closest to her.

“Some of my best friends and probably lifelong friends and, nearly family, are in the GAA. My whole family are very passionate about the GAA and our local club. I saw it as an opportunity. I had so much support from everyone around me at home.

“They made it really easy. They’ve supported me all along the way. Some of them have even come abroad to watch me play. They’re kinda what made it easy. I don’t think it would have been a decision I could have made without the support of them.

“I kinda just took the chance. I love the idea of the sport. Sevens rugby is just a really honest sport, where you’ve got seven people and if you’re not working hard, the system falls apart. So you need all seven.”

In comparison to where the game may have been when she first signed up to the national programme, there appears to be a genuine buzz surrounding Sevens right now in Ireland. Mulhall believes the success of the sport in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has helped in this regard, and she hopes Ireland can carry it forward on American soil this weekend.

“I definitely think so. More people in the country are finding out what this sport is about. I think around the world that was helped through the Olympics. Even for the country ourselves, especially say when the boys did so well on the World Series there last month. That brought such a buzz around the country. I think people are definitely tuning into Sevens and watching it more.”

While guiding Ireland to success in the Sevens World Cup and HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series remains highest on her list of priorities, the proud Rathdrum clubwoman has not ruled out the possibility of one day representing the Ireland 15s side in the Six Nations Championship.

“I’d definitely like to learn the game of 15s. I’ve a long way to go because it’s such a different game, the tactics of it,” admitted Mulhall. “I’d have to study the game a lot and that’s something that I’d love to try. If I had the time to do it and then was able to get to a level where I was able to represent my country that would be amazing.”

Follow the Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens teams this season in our exclusive behind-the-scenes series – On The Road with the Ireland 7s.

The Ireland Sevens jerseys are available to buy online here from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, AT&T Park, San Francisco, USA, Friday, July 20-Saturday, July 21):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster)
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Claire Boles (Railway Union/Ulster)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Railway Union/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Women’s Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

IRELAND WOMEN’S RWC SEVENS Fixtures –

Friday, July 20:

Round of 16: Ireland v England, AT&T Park, San Francisco, 12.12pm local time/8.12pm Irish time

Quarter-Finals

Saturday, July 21:

Finals

More details on the Rugby World Cup Sevens are available here. Tickets are available to purchase here via the tournament website. There are single-day tickets in all seating categories and three-day tickets.