The curtailment of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was not how Ireland Men would have envisaged their maiden season as a core team to end, but in the six rounds of action during the 2020 campaign, Jordan Conroy was among those who shone brightly on a stage sprinkled with stars.
The Ireland Sevens winger’s try-scoring exploits throughout the course of the Series, from his five tries against Scotland in Dubai to crucial scores en route to quarter-finals in Cape Town and Los Angeles, brought Conroy’s talents to a worldwide audience as Anthony Eddy‘s side finished the season in 10th place on the overall standings.
Following the cancellation of the remaining Men’s rounds in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris this week, Conroy was crowned World Sevens Series top-scorer after he crossed 30 times in just 28 games, eight head of USA speedster Carlin Isles, while the 26-year-old’s overall World Series try-scoring record now stands at a remarkable 45 in 43 games.
Conroy’s extraordinary season also marks the second year running that an Ireland Sevens player has finished top of the try-scoring charts, after Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe led the way on the Women’s circuit in the 2019 season with 35 scores.
“I’m really proud of the achievement as it was our first year on the World Series as a core nation,” Conroy told IrishRugby.ie. “To play in front of so many Irish people around the world was incredible and while this is an individual award, it is as much about the team as it is me. All of the team play such a big part in any try, especially in Sevens, and most of the time they do the hard work for me to finish the job. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
The Tullamore native’s skillset – electric acceleration and speed, dazzling footwork and a magical finishing ability – always marked him out as a potential star of the World Series, but nobody, including Conroy, could have quite predicted the impact he has made during Ireland’s debut season as a core side.
Conroy scored seven tries at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver in what turned out to be the final tournament of the season in March and while he is naturally disappointed not to have the opportunity to continue his prolific form through the remaining four rounds, the flying winger is already excited at the prospect of doing it all again in 2021.
“It was such an enjoyable year for us as a team,” he continued. “To taste the World Series for the first time was brilliant but it was very much just a taste. We all wish we could have played the last four tournaments because we felt we had a lot more to give and I was eager to see what I was capable of through a proper 10-tournament season but there are bigger things going on in the world right now. We’ll have to wait until 2021 for that and I already can’t wait.”
The postponement of this summer’s Olympic Games also means Eddy’s side are facing into a big 12 months ahead, as they bid to improve on their performances when it is safe for the World Series season to begin and build towards the Tokyo qualifying tournament in 2021.
“It’s a long road ahead of us but we have plenty to look forward to with hopefully the start of a new World Series season and then the Olympic qualifiers,” Conroy adds. “We’ll give it our best shot and hopefully that means I’ll be in the running for the top try-scorer crown again too.”