Ireland Women’s Sevens coach Stan McDowell has named 13 players to travel to Kazan, Russia for the Rugby Europe Olympic qualifying tournament which takes place this weekend.
The overall winners of the competition will earn a place at the 2020 Olympics, while the teams finishing in second and third will have a final opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Games via the World Rugby Repechage which will take place in 2020.
Lucy Mulhall captains a squad which includes fit-again forward Audrey O’Flynn who make a welcome return from injury. Scrum half Stacey Flood, who is set to win her 30th Ireland Sevens cap, is joined by the equally experienced Louise Galvin, Hannah Tyrrell and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.
Also included are Kathy Baker, Eve Higgins, Anna McGann and Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, while Megan Burns, Brittany Hogan and Emily Lane all won their first senior Sevens caps last September in Kazan and have since all gone on to play at a number of World Series events during the season.
Ireland finished fourth at the opening leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series in Marcoussis which decided the pool seedings for this weekend, so the girls in green are drawn in Pool C alongside familiar rivals Spain, and Romania and the Czech Republic who both came through the Rugby Europe Trophy competition.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, McDowell said:
The players have had the Olympic qualifier at the back of their minds all season and now that it’s upon us they are raring to go.
“There were some very big positives to take from the games in Marcoussis last month, as well as key learnings to bring into this weekend. This tournament is about taking each game as it comes and focusing on each moment during each of these games.”
The Olympic qualifier, which will be live streamed on www.rugbyeurope.tv, takes place at Kazan’s Central Stadium and features the top European sides in Women’s Sevens rugby, including World Series core sides Ireland, France, Russia, England and Spain. Click here for the full fixtures and pool line-ups.
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2019 Rugby Europe Olympic Women’s Sevens Qualifier, Central Stadium, Kazan, Russia, Saturday, July 13-Sunday, July 14):
Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster)
Megan Burns (Tullamore/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Brittany Hogan (Railway Union/Ulster)
Emily Lane (Mallow/Munster)
Anna McGann (UCD/Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere/Munster)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
2019 RUGBY EUROPE OLYMPIC WOMEN’S SEVENS QUALIFIER:
POOL A – France, Poland, Italy, Moldova
POOL B – Russia, England, Germany, Sweden
POOL C – Spain, IRELAND, Romania, Czech Republic
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Fixtures –
Saturday, July 13 –
Ireland v Romania, Central Stadium, 12.06pm local time/10.06am Irish time
Ireland v Czech Republic, Central Stadium, 2.51pm local time/12.51pm Irish time
Spain v Ireland, Central Stadium, 5.14pm local time/3.14pm Irish time
Sunday, July 14 –
Play-Offs & Finals
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS – European Schedule:
June 29-30: Marcoussis, France – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series First Leg (4th Place/14 Points)
July 13-14: Kazan, Russia – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Olympic Qualifying Tournament
July 20-21: Kharkiv, Ukraine – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series Second Leg