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Underage Sevens Interpros Shine A Light On Emerging Female Talent Pathway

Underage Sevens Interpros Shine A Light On Emerging Female Talent Pathway

Underage Sevens Interpros Shine A Light On Emerging Female Talent Pathway

Over the past two weekends the first ever Under-16 and Under-18 IRFU Female Sevens Interprovincial Series has taken place at the IRFU High Performance Centre on the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin.

In Pics: Future Stars On Show At Underage IRFU Female Sevens Interpros

Each province provided two teams at both age grades, the teams playing in a round robin format on day 1 and then a knockout format on day 2 – mimicking a World Rugby Sevens Series tournament.

192 players took part in the Interpro Series which was used to develop core rugby skills of identified female pathway players and to identify players for national programmes such as the Rugby Europe Under-18 Sevens Championship which takes place in Prague in July. 

Leinster claimed the Under-16 title, beating Connacht 17-5 in the final, while Munster overcame their Leinster counterparts 34-5 in the Under-18 decider.

A number of players involved in the series also featured for the Ireland Under-18 15s team in the U-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival in Edinburgh last month. The Six Nations Festival is designed to create a learning environment for pathway players and expose them to the rigours of high performance sport.

The Ireland Under-18s performed well, pushing England close and scoring some excellent tries in their first full international fixture against Wales.

Katie Fitzhenry, IRFU Women’s Performance Pathway coach, said:

This series is another significant milestone in the development of the female player pathway. The 192 players involved in this tournament share a number of rugby touchpoints which have helped to accelerate their development.

“Many would have had their first rugby experience via the Aviva Minis Festivals and the ‘Give it a Try’ programme, while others would have had a first rugby exposure through Aldi Play Rugby in primary schools.

“The X7s competitions in secondary schools has been huge in exposing girls to rugby and giving them a really positive experience of the sport – competing locally, provincially and in national finals.”

Fitzhenry is cognisant of all the work being done around the country which gives the high performance staff the opportunity to talent scout and identify players for inclusion in national programmes.

The clubs, schools and provinces are doing fantastic work in supporting these young female athletes and you can see how quickly they develop once exposed to pathway programmes and the competitive nature of regional development squads.

“Some of the players involved in the Interpro Series are part of the new Women’s National Talent Squad. This programme will grow over time and the progress of newly-identified talent from the Interpro Series will be closely monitored over next season.”

As women’s rugby develops, Fitzhenry believes it is important that Irish Rugby ensures the players have the requisite skills to compete internationally. She added:

As we develop the pathway, we need to ensure that a strong focus is placed on the skills and game understanding that is going to propel these players into provincial and national jerseys.

“The game of Sevens can play a significant role in skill development as you must repeatedly perform those skills under pressure and make decisions in a fast-paced game.

“The exposure these players have had over the two weekends of the Underage Female Sevens Interpros will accelerate their development as rugby players, and it’s exciting to see the talent coming through especially as we have national Under-18 Women’s teams in both 15s and Sevens.

“The IRFU have used this tournament to scout Under-18 talent for the upcoming Rugby Europe U-18 Sevens Championship and next year’s Under-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival.”