Billy Dardis will captain the Ireland Men’s Sevens squad as they make their eagerly-anticipated debut as a core team on the HSBC World Rugby Men’s Sevens Series in Dubai next week.
After securing World Series qualification in Hong Kong last April, the Ireland Men, who have made four previous appearances as an invitational side, will officially join the top table of Sevens rugby alongside the Ireland Women in the first combined event of the 2019/2020 season.
Dardis leads Ireland’s 13-man squad for the Dubai Sevens, while Terry Kennedy, Mark Roche, Foster Horan and Harry McNulty, who were part of the initial Men’s Sevens panel selected by Anthony Eddy and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora in 2015, are all included.
Eddy has been able to retain the main core of the side that achieved World Series qualification in Hong Kong as Adam Leavy, Bryan Mollen, Greg O’Shea, Jordan Conroy and John O’Donnell are all named in the squad to face USA, Australia and Scotland at The Dubai Sevens Stadium from December 5 to 7.
Leinster Academy back Aaron O’Sullivan, who made his Ireland Under-20 debut against England at last summer’s Under-20 World Championship in Argentina, is in line for his first Sevens cap, while former Ireland Under-20 captain Jack Kelly and Hugo Lennox of Skerries complete the panel.
The Dubai Sevens marks the start of Ireland’s maiden World Series campaign and Eddy’s side will hope to use it as a springboard for next summer’s World Rugby Repechage tournament as they bid to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Speaking ahead of the team’s departure to Dubai, Eddy said: “The players have been looking forward to this for a long time and are delighted to be recognised as a core team on the World Series.
“They will be very keen to put in a performance that justifies all the hard work they have done to reach this point.
“We are well aware of the level of competition on the World Series and we also recognise we have to lift our performance on a consistent basis. There are no easy games at this level so we have to be well prepared.”
Ireland have been drawn in Pool B and will open their tournament against USA on Thursday at 6.12pm local time/2.12pm Irish time, before facing Australia (11.58am local time/7.58am Irish time) and Scotland (5.50pm local time/1.50pm Irish time) in further pool outings on Friday.
The Dubai Sevens will be streamed live on the World Rugby website and you can keep up to date with Ireland’s progress using the hashtag #IreM7s and on the Irish Rugby social media channels throughout the week.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Ireland Sevens jersey is now available to buy online from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.
IRELAND MEN’S SQUAD (Dubai 7s – Thursday, December 5 – Saturday, December 7):
Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock/Leinster)*
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College)(captain)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College).
DUBAI SEVENS IRELAND MEN’S MATCH SCHEDULE:
Thursday, December 5 –
Ireland v USA, The Dubai Sevens Stadium, 6.12pm local time/2.12pm Irish time
Friday, December 6 –
Ireland v Australia, The Dubai Sevens Stadium, 11.58am local time/7.58am Irish time
Ireland v Scotland, The Dubai Sevens Stadium, 5.50pm local time/1.50pm Irish time
Saturday, December 7 –
Men’s Play-Offs & Finals, The Dubai Sevens Stadium, TBC.