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All Eyes On Los Angeles For Ireland Men’s Sevens

Harry McNulty

Ireland Sevens international Harry McNulty in training at the IRFU High Performance Centre this week. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

After a brief period of rest and regeneration, the Ireland Men’s Sevens squad are finalising their preparations for the next HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series double-header, as Anthony Eddy‘s side bid to build further momentum heading towards this summer’s Olympic Repechage tournament.

Ireland produced a strong finish in Sydney earlier this month to claim seventh place in the fourth leg of the 2020 World Series campaign, leaving the Billy Dardis-led side in ninth place overall heading into next weekend’s Los Angeles Sevens.

It has been a quick turnaround between tournaments with the players given a week off following the double-header in New Zealand and Australia to recover from 18 days on the road before attention turned to the next legs in LA and Vancouver at the IRFU High Performance Centre.

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The Play-off victory over Argentina, as Ireland came from three tries behind to claim a memorable win at the Bankwest Stadium, ensured Eddy’s side travelled home on a high and will give them renewed confidence upon their departure for America on Monday.

While the performance in Hamilton a week previous was disappointing, the hope is that Ireland can now build on their improved showing in Sydney as they head towards another exciting double-header for rounds five and six of the 2020 World Series campaign.

The move from previous host city Las Vegas sees the two-day tournament head to the home stadium of MLS outfit LA Galaxy, Dignity Health Sports Park in California, with Ireland paired in Pool B alongside Canada, South Africa and Kenya.

In a repeat of last year’s format, the top two teams in each Pool will qualify for the quarter-finals, while teams finishing in the bottom two places in the groups will play for positions nine to 16 on day two of the tournament, but the goal for Ireland is clear.

“We’re very much targeting those quarter-finals,” Hugo Lennox tells IrishRugby.ie. “Every game is tough, you’ll never get an easy one in the World Series. We’ll take it game-by-game and hopefully top the Pool but if not you have that luxury of going through in second too.

“The format reverting back to the standard one of quarter-finals is huge and we’ll hopefully have plenty of opportunities to go out there and express ourselves.”

Ireland will open their LA Sevens campaign against familiar foes Canada on Saturday, February 29 (11.13am local time/7.13pm Irish time) before facing Kenya (2.31pm local time/10.31pm Irish time) and the Blitzboks (7.05pm local time/3.05am Irish time) later that day.

Forward Adam Leavy says the squad are focused on eradicating the errors that have cost them in tight games this season.

“It’s all about momentum in these tournaments and to finish seventh in Sydney was good but we need to build on that again,” he said.

“We’ve had a few disappointing loses by close margins so it’s just making sure we eradicate those errors and the small mistakes that we’ve been making. The focus is just on improving each tournament and see where that takes us.”

After the April double-header in Hong Kong and Singapore was postponed, Ireland travel to America and Canada knowing they can go into these tournaments at full-tilt with an extended break to follow before the season resumes in London in late May.

Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens and Women’s Rugby, will announce his 13-player travelling squad for the LA Sevens on Monday.

“It’s a quick turnaround and we’re trying to get everything in before we go away,” Lennox added.”But preparations have gone well and the aim now is to continue on from where we left off in Sydney.”