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Ireland Men Create More History As New European Sevens Champions

Ireland Men Create More History As New European Sevens Champions

Ireland Men Create More History As New European Sevens Champions

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team won their first Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series title after dominating the final tournament of the series with six wins out of six in Lodz, Poland.

Lodz 7s Photo Galleries: Day 1 & Day 2

Anthony Eddy’s men, who were series runners-up on their debut last year, finished the 2018 edition in fine style with a 35-5 final victory over Germany to be crowned Lodz 7s champions, adding to this summer’s Moscow and Marcoussis 7s crowns, as they were confirmed as the best across the continent.

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First half braces from Terry Kennedy, the series’ top try scorer with 23 tries in 18 games, and Jordan Conroy had Ireland well in front of the Germans, leading 28-0 at half-time, and they added a closing score from replacement Adam Leavy. Earlier in the day, captain Billy Dardis and his team-mates cruised past Sweden (47-5) and a France development side (42-0) to reach the decider.

Ireland impressively won 23 of their 24 matches across the four legs – only losing to England in the Exeter semi-final – and finished with a new record tally of 76 series points, well clear of second-placed Germany (60) and last year’s winners Russia (56) in third. They amassed 120 tries and conceded only 22.

It is another milestone achievement for the Men’s squad, following on from their historic bronze medal win at the London leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in June and the Challenge Trophy success at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in July.

The 12-man panel in Lodz – all aged between 19 and 25 – included team stalwarts Harry McNulty and Kennedy, who have both been involved since the foundations were laid by the European Division C and B title triumphs in 2015, and Dardis and John O’Donnell, as well 19-year-old new cap Hugo Lennox and fellow young guns Sean Cribbin (20) and Robert Baloucoune (21).

The IRFU Men’s Sevens Programme has completed the full set of Rugby Europe trophies, from Division C through to the Grand Prix Series, in the space of just over three years. Graduates of the programme in recent years include Adam Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin, who have both gone on to win Ireland 15s caps, and fellow provincial regulars Alex Wootton, Dan Goggin, Barry Daly, Tom Daly and Nick Timoney.

Over the past twelve months, and in addition to the men’s success, the Ireland Women made history with a sixth-place World Cup finish and last week claimed bronze in the Grand Prix Series, the Ireland Under-18 Women were European bronze medallists and UK School Games and Home Nations Series champions, while the Ireland U-18 Men were European champions last September and silver medallists at the 2018 tournament in May.

The next key goal for the Ireland men to achieve is qualifying for the World Series via the global qualifying tournament in Hong Kong in April. They fell short in their first attempt earlier this year, losing in the last-four to eventual qualifiers Japan. Germany and Russia, who were relegated from the World Series last season, will join Ireland at the 2019 event in Hong Kong.

Having topped Pool C yesterday with a trio of wins, Eddy’s charges faced Sweden in this morning’s quarter-final, aggressive defending keeping the Pool A runners-up pinned back in their own half until a handling error allowed Bryan Mollen to slice through a hole for the opening try in the second minute.

Similarly, an injection of pace from talismanic forward McNulty opened up the Swedish defence for try number two, following a fleet-footed counter attack from skipper Dardis and Mollen, who gobbled up the metres on the left wing.

Foster Horan then jinked through into the 22 and bounced off an attempted tackle to release Kennedy for the right corner. Ireland added a fourth try past the half-time hooter, McNulty tapping down the restart and Dardis sniping past the Swedish 10-metre line before Ulster Academy flyer Baloucoune broke in between two defenders to score to the right of the posts, making it 26-0.

Conroy came off the bench to notch the fifth try, fending off a defender out wide after fellow replacement Leavy had done well to win turnover ball inside the Irish half. Alfred Nordgren finished well in the corner to get Sweden off the mark, but Greg O’Shea broke a tackle and threw a dummy to hit back with a nippy 95-metre effort inside the final minute.

There was still time for Ireland to squeeze in a seventh try with McNulty contesting Lennox’s restart, Leavy getting to the breaking ball and laying off for O’Donnell to dive in the left corner. Skerries youngster Lennox provided even more gloss with an excellent left-footed conversion from the touchline for a 47-5 scoreline.

McNulty was heavily involved in the early exchanges against France in the semi-final, winning Dardis’ kick-off, disrupting a French lineout and then popping up on the left wing to score the first try after just 70 seconds. Horan’s quick feet left a defender for dead before he supplied the scoring pass, with Dardis comfortably converting.

After McNulty secured possession again from the restart, some lovely footwork from Cribbin split open the French defence and Kennedy’s well-timed support line earned him a converted try under the posts. France enjoyed some possession up towards halfway before a penalty saw Dardis tap quickly and link with Horan whose dancing feet took him around two defenders and over for a slick score just before half-time.

21-0 became 28-0 within a minute of the restart as Horan completed his brace with another sharp run to the line in between two defenders. O’Donnell straightened up a tenth-minute attack and backed himself from halfway, crossing in the right corner with Dardis tagging on a handsome conversion before being replaced.

The Irish bench was emptied in the closing stages and they conjured up a sixth try just before the final hooter, long passes from O’Donnell and Leavy keeping an attack going and Conroy, fed by O’Shea, was able to burn past Thibaut Trotta and dot down in the right corner. Another terrific left-footed strike from Lennox made it a 42-point winning margin.

Familiar rivals Germany stood between Ireland and taking home another tournament trophy for the IRFU cabinet, the two teams having also met in the Moscow and Marcoussis finals which the Irish side won 28-7 and 49-7 respectively.

Today’s rematch saw the electric Kennedy open the scoring after just 25 seconds, having shrugged off a tackler and managed to stay on his feet. Credit to McNulty again for gobbling up the initial kick-off, a key component of Ireland’s game throughout the campaign.

Dardis converted and also added the extras to Conroy’s second-minute effort, which came from good work by Cribbin and Horan and a well-timed final pass from Dardis. Germany threatened to cancel out those seven points but McNulty’s excellent try-saving tackle denied Jonathon Dawe, under the watchful eyes of Eddy and Head of Athletic Performance, Allan Temple-Jones, in the dugout.

Ireland broke further in front with two more converted tries in the lead up to half-time. Kennedy’s searing pace registered arguably the try of the weekend – his seventh in all. He broke from deep inside the Irish 22, turning on the after-burners to leave four defenders trailing in his wake.

Textbook counter-rucking from Horan supplied turnover ball which allowed Conroy to break clean through from the ruck for his second try of the final. Nonetheless, Germany carried more of an attacking threat in the second half, Tim Lichtenberg just evading Baloucoune’s despairing dive to score after Ireland had been exposed by a quick tap.

However, Ireland made sure they ended the match very much on the front foot. Replacement Leavy surged away from Dawe, close to the left touchline, to grab a 12th minute try, converted by Cribbin. Teenager Lennox was almost away for a sixth score in the dying seconds but his juggled attempt at gathering a pass resulted in a knock-on.

Relive the Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens teams’ 2017/18 campaigns 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 MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2018 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series – Round 4, Miejski Stadium, Lodz, Poland, Saturday, September 8-Sunday, September 9):

Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ballymena (dual status)/Ulster)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians/Old Belvedere (dual status))
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College) (capt)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries) *
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)

* Denotes uncapped player


Saturday, September 8 –

Pool C:

Ireland 19 Italy 7, Miejski Stadium, Lodz
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen, Terry Kennedy, Harry McNulty; Cons: Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – POOL C: IRELAND 19 ITALY 7 (1:12:15-1:32:10) by Rugby Europe

Team: Harry McNulty, Foster Horan, Bryan Mollen, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Lennox, Robert Baloucoune, Jordan Conroy.

Subs: Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Adam Leavy, John O’Donnell, Greg O’Shea.

Ireland 17 Spain 7, Miejski Stadium, Lodz
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Greg O’Shea, Sean Cribbin, Bryan Mollen; Con: Sean Cribbin

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – POOL C: IRELAND 17 SPAIN 7 (44:19-1:05:35) by Rugby Europe

Team: Harry McNulty, Adam Leavy, John O’Donnell, Greg O’Shea, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Robert Baloucoune.

Subs: Foster Horan, Bryan Mollen, Hugo Lennox, Billy Dardis (capt), Jordan Conroy.

Ireland 35 Portugal 12, Miejski Stadium, Lodz
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy 2, Adam Leavy, Jordan Conroy, Robert Baloucoune; Cons: Billy Dardis 4, Hugo Lennox

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – POOL C: IRELAND 35 PORTUGAL 12 (46:03-1:07:20) by Rugby Europe

Team: Harry McNulty, Adam Leavy, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Subs: Foster Horan, Bryan Mollen, Hugo Lennox, Greg O’Shea, Robert Baloucoune.

Day 1 Round-Up – Ireland Men March Into Lodz Quarter-Final After Three Wins From Three

Sunday, September 9 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland 47 Sweden 5, Miejski Stadium, Lodz
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen, Harry McNulty, Terry Kennedy, Robert Baloucoune, Jordan Conroy, Greg O’Shea, John O’Donnell; Cons: Billy Dardis 3, Hugo Lennox 3

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – CUP QUARTER-FINAL: IRELAND 47 SWEDEN 5 (51:24-1:11:08) by Rugby Europe

Team: Harry McNulty, Foster Horan, Bryan Mollen, Billy Dardis (capt), Greg O’Shea, Terry Kennedy, Robert Baloucoune.

Subs: Sean Cribbin, Adam Leavy, John O’Donnell, Hugo Lennox, Jordan Conroy.

Cup Semi-Final: France 0 Ireland 42, Miejski Stadium, Lodz
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Harry McNulty, Terry Kennedy, Foster Horan 2, John O’Donnell, Jordan Conroy; Cons: Billy Dardis 5, Hugo Lennox

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – CUP SEMI-FINAL: FRANCE 0 IRELAND 42 (1:13:03-1:33:47) by Rugby Europe

Team: Harry McNulty, Foster Horan, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Subs: Bryan Mollen, Adam Leavy, Greg O’Shea, Hugo Lennox, Robert Baloucoune.

Cup Final: Germany 5 Ireland 35, Miejski Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy 2, Jordan Conroy 2, Adam Leavy; Cons: Billy Dardis 4, Sean Cribbin

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – CUP FINAL: GERMANY 5 IRELAND 35 (1:18:42-2:02:51) by Rugby Europe

Team: Harry McNulty, Foster Horan, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Subs: Bryan Mollen, Adam Leavy, Greg O’Shea, Hugo Lennox, Robert Baloucoune.

The full results, pool and final placings are available on the Rugby Europe tournament page.