Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby, has confirmed the 13-man squad to Colomiers in France to compete at the Rugby Europe Olympic qualifying tournament this weekend.
The overall winners of the competition will earn a place at the 2020 Olympics, while the teams finishing 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.
Having finished as runners-up at the European Grand Prix Series’ opening leg in Moscow last month, Ireland are second seeds and head up Pool B in Colomiers alongside familiar rivals Spain and Russia. The pool is completed by Ukraine, who claimed second spot behind Lithuania in the Rugby Europe Sevens Trophy Series.
Eddy’s side are captained again by Naas man Billy Dardis, and the travelling squad also includes experienced Sevens internationals Ian Fitzpatrick, Terry Kennedy, Harry McNulty and Mark Roche, who have all been a part of the IRFU Sevens Programme since 2015.
Hugo Keenan and Foster Horan both return from their respective injuries for their first tournament since Hong Kong where Ireland claimed a place as a core side on next season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Prolific winger Jordan Conroy, Shane Daly, Adam Leavy, Greg O’Shea and Bryan Mollen are all familiar faces, while Dublin University and Leinster back Jack Kelly made his Ireland Sevens debut at the London leg of the World Series in May.
Speaking ahead of the eagerly-awaited Olympic qualifier, Eddy said:
The season so far has had a lot of positives for this group, with success in Hong Kong and additional learning opportunities in London and Paris on the World Series, but one of the key targets for this season is Olympic qualification.
“There are some very strong sides competing in Colomiers at the weekend, but they are sides that we have come up against over the past numbers of seasons so the players are aware of what’s ahead of them and what needs to be done to achieve their goal of qualification.”
The tournament, which will be live streamed on www.rugbyeurope.tv, takes place at Colomiers’ Stade Michel Bendichou and feature World Series teams Ireland, France, England and Spain, while Germany, Russia and Portugal have all challenged in Europe in recent years. Click here for the pool line-ups and fixtures.
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2019 Rugby Europe Olympic Men’s Sevens Qualifier, Stade Michel Bendichou, Colomiers, France, Saturday, July 13-Sunday, July 14):
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College) (capt)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Mark Roche (Blackrock College)
2019 RUGBY EUROPE OLYMPIC MEN’S SEVENS QUALIFIER:
POOL A – France, Portugal, Italy, Hungary
POOL B – IRELAND, Spain, Russia, Ukraine
POOL C – England, Germany, Georgia, Lithuania
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Fixtures –
Saturday, July 13 –
Ireland v Ukraine, Stade Michel Bendichou, 12.44pm local time/11.44am Irish time
Ireland v Russia, Stade Michel Bendichou, 3.29pm local time/2.29pm Irish time
Ireland v Spain, Stade Michel Bendichou, 6.36pm local time/5.36pm Irish time
Sunday, July 14 –
Play-Offs & Finals
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS – European Schedule:
June 22-23: Moscow, Russia – Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series First Leg (2nd Place/18 Points)
July 13-14: Colomiers, France – Rugby Europe Sevens Olympic Qualifying Tournament
July 20-21: Lodz, Poland – Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series Second Leg