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Mollen ‘Privileged’ To Lead Ireland Back Into World Series Action

Mollen ‘Privileged’ To Lead Ireland Back Into World Series Action

Ireland's Bryan Mollen at Thursday's photocall for the team captains in Vancouver., Canada

After 18 months on pause, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series makes an exciting comeback this weekend as the Ireland Men return to action at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver.

Coming off the back of a historic first Olympic Games in Tokyo, Anthony Eddy’s side will make a welcome return to the World Series as 12 men’s teams assemble in Canada for games across Saturday and Sunday.

Ireland, a core team on the World Series, have been drawn in Pool B alongside Great Britain and invitational sides Hong Kong and Jamaica, both of whom Eddy’s men beat at the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco last June en route to Olympic qualification.

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Captaining his country for the first time, Bryan Mollen leads a new-look Ireland squad as Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens, uses the opening tournament of the 2021 season as a chance to explore the depth within his panel.

Mollen, who is one of three Olympians involved, alongside Mark Roche and Gavin Mullin, told IrishRugby.ie: “It’s great to finally be back on the World Series. We have waited a long time to be back competing regularly against the top teams.

“It’s also very fitting to be back in Vancouver for this first stop too, as this ended up being the last leg of the previous Series which was cut short due to the pandemic.

“Being able to travel and compete again like this feels like we are getting back to normal again.”

Ireland will open their Canada Sevens run against Hong Kong on Saturday (9.44am local time/5.44pm Irish time), before going head-to-head with Jamaica (12.55pm local time/8.55pm Irish time) and Great Britain (4.28 local time/12.28am) later in the day. All games will be live on World Rugby channels.

Leinster’s Liam Turner, who played 16 games on the 2020 World Series, and Sean Cribbin also add experience to the squad, while Ireland Under-20 international Shane Jennings is an exciting addition having impressed for Richie Murphy’s youngsters during this summer’s Six Nations.

Ulster Academy winger Ben MoxhamConor Phillips of Munster and Ed Kelly – the younger brother of Olympian Jack – have been part of the National Sevens programme for the last 12 months and featured during the IRFU HPC International 7s tournament in June.

The back-to-back tournaments in Canada present them with the platform to showcase their talents at the start of a new Olympic cycle.

Mollen continued: “Preparations have gone well this week and everyone is in good spirits after a long day’s travel on Monday. We managed to get a good gym and pitch session done since touching down in Vancouver and we have been building towards the weekend, with Friday’s Captain’s Run taking place at BC Place.

“This is a very new group of players but we are gelling nicely as a squad and we will continue to build ahead of our first game on Saturday.

“For the new faces in the squad, whether they only recently joined or have been part of the wider training squad for a while, competing against the other international teams on the world stage is the best way to really get an experience on top level rugby Sevens.

“Everyone on the team is a phenomenal rugby player so I can’t wait to see them in action showing off their individual skills in front of the crowd.”

On getting the chance to skipper the team, he added: “To captain your country is always a huge honour and privilege, so it is something that I am really looking forward to and will really cherish.

“It’s something I didn’t expect but very happy to get the opportunity to lead this talented squad out onto the pitch at a World Series tournament.”

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Canada Sevens, Vancouver and Edmonton, September 2021):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Chris Cosgrave (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Shane Jennings (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
Sean Kearns (Ireland Sevens)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Steven Kilgallen (UCD RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College RFC) (capt)
Ben Moxham (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Conor Phillips (Young Munster RFC/Munster)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Liam Turner (Dublin University FC/Leinster)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS – Vancouver Fixtures:

Saturday, September 18:

Pool B:

  • Ireland v Hong Kong (9.44am local time/5.44pm Irish time)
  • Ireland v Jamaica (12.55pm local time/8.55pm Irish time)
  • Great Britain v Ireland (4.28pm local time/12.28am Irish time)

Sunday, September 19:

  • Play-Off Matches