From Dubai to Cape Town, the contrast between the two cities could not be greater but the change in pace and culture has allowed the Ireland Sevens squads to reset and refocus ahead of this weekend’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leg in South Africa.
The Ireland Men’s and Women’s squads arrived into Cape Town on Sunday evening following the conclusion of the Dubai Sevens, as attention turns to the second part of this World Series December double-header.
On their debut appearance as a World Series core team, Anthony Eddy’s men finished 12th in Dubai, while the Ireland Women ended up 10th overall after an extra-time defeat to England in their play-off game.
Both sides left Dubai knowing they did not perform to their potential and while that was a source of frustration for players and management, it has focused minds in Cape Town this week.
With the action not getting underway at the Cape Town Stadium until Friday, Ireland have used the early part of the week to recharge the batteries, both mentally and physically, by taking in some of the sights and sounds of the South African city.
After a full day off on Monday, the Men’s squad hit the gym on Tuesday and will take to the training pitch on Wednesday and Thursday, before opening their Cape Town Sevens campaign against Australia, whom they also faced in Dubai, on Friday at 4.37pm local time/2.37pm Irish time.
Eddy’s side will then face Samoa (11.19am local time/9.19am Irish time) and Kenya (4.47pm local time, 2.47pm Irish time) in further Pool D outings on Saturday, before the play-offs and finals on Sunday.
Speaking at the Captains’ photocall today in the Cape Town Stadium, Billy Dardis said: “It’s a class stadium, it’s huge, so hopefully we can pull out a better performance than last weekend.
“Overall, it was pretty disappointing as we didn’t really perform but hopefully we can get back on the horse this week and get back into it.”
The Ireland Women, meanwhile, have also enjoyed some down time in Cape Town by visiting Table Mountain and Robben Island but minds are now very much focused on the task in hand this weekend.
Stan McDowell’s charges have been drawn in Pool C alongside the USA, Australia and England, with the American team first up on Friday afternoon at 2.22pm local time/12.22pm Irish time.
“We were disappointed with last weekend but it’s a new week and a new competition, so hopefully we’ll get out there and perform this weekend,” admitted Katie Fitzhenry, Ireland’s co-captain.
Both squads show one change from last week in Dubai, with Ireland Under-20 international Liam Tuner and Gorey teenager Kate Farrell McCabe in line to win their first Sevens caps if selected in the final 12-player panels. All the action will be live on Sky Sports Action across the weekend.