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Ireland Men Miss Out On Cup Quarter-Final Berth In Cape Town

Ireland Men Miss Out On Cup Quarter-Final Berth In Cape Town

Ireland Men Miss Out On Cup Quarter-Final Berth In Cape Town

Andrew Smith takes on Paul Scanlan during the Ireland Men's final pool game against Samoa in Cape Town ©INPHO/Christiaan Kotze

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) missed out on a Cup quarter-final place for only the second time in 14 World Series tournaments.

They improved their pool performance from Dubai, notching two wins at Cape Town Stadium, but a frustrating 22-19 defeat to Uruguay – during which Mark Roche was sent off for two yellow cards – was ultimately their undoing.

They responded in the final round by beating Samoa 21-14, yet the concession of a late try saw them squeezed out of the quarter-final reckoning on scoring difference by second-placed Uruguay (+20 against +18).

James Topping’s side will regroup for tomorrow’s 9th place quarter-final against Kenya (kick-off 9.56am local time/7.56am Irish time). Australia and France, who are second and third respectively in the World Series standings, also failed to make the last-eight.

Day two at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens had started very brightly for Ireland, a big counter ruck led by Aaron O’Sullivan forcing the ball loose. He picked it up and, supported by Jack Kelly, powered over the Uruguayan line for a try after just 13 seconds.

However, they soon lost Roche to the sin bin after he was deemed to have kicked the ball away before Uruguay could take a penalty. Diego Ardao’s fourth-minute converted try came at the end of a prolonged spell inside the Irish 22.

Roche’s return to the pitch was only a brief one, as referee Morne Ferreira soon carded him for a deliberate knock-on in a tackle. Los Teros 7s broke downfield and Felipe Arcos Perez’s well-timed offload released Mateo Vinals for the whitewash.

Six-man Ireland were back level at 12-all for the interval, replacement Andrew Smith attacking from deep and a sweeping move ended with Jordan Conroy slipping the ball inside for Niall Comerford to raid in behind the posts and convert.

McNulty’s acrobatic claiming of the restart allowed Ireland to build momentum for Chay Mullins to run in his third try of the weekend. He stepped off his right and evaded a tackle to score from just outside the Uruguayan 22.

Hugo Lennox converted but received a yellow card in the 12th minute, having thrown a pass just after the referee had blown the whistle for a penalty. Uruguay got over in the right corner only seconds later, through replacement Ignacio Facciolo.

Although the missed conversion still left Ireland in front (19-17), the five men could not hold out. Smith knocked on from the restart, and Uruguay used the scrum to break to the right and send Facciolo over for the match-winning try.

Topping’s men were determined to not let the result derail their quarter-final bid, and they had the target of winning by 10 points against Samoa in order to progress to the last-eight.

Smith and Conroy were both prominent early on against the Samoans, the former breaking a tackle and passing out of another for Roche to weave over from close range after just two minutes.

The scrum half converted his own try and was then narrowly denied a second score, Vaa Apelu Maliko just getting across to make the tackle in time.

Ireland missed another opportunity when a TMO review ruled out a try for Conroy in the right corner, and a possession and territory-starved Samoa struck for a long range leveller on the stroke of half-time.

Sean Cribbin’s attempted pass to Roche went to ground, Paul Scanlan got his boot to it and collected the ball on the bounce to race clear from inside his own half. His conversion made it seven points apiece.

A strong tackle from Kelly helped Roche to rip the ball back early in the second half. Samoa leaked successive penalties in their own 22, and the newly-introduced Lennox tapped to dive in low and score from five metres out.

It was a quick-fire double for Ireland, as Scanlan was guilty of throwing a loose pass back towards his own posts. The ball broke into the path of the inrushing McNulty who gleefully touched down. Roche’s conversion made it 21-7.

Nonetheless, some uncharacteristic Irish errors – the lineout misfired and a pass was fumbled off a scrum – allowed Samoa to break from halfway. Mullins missed a tackle on Tuna Tuitama who ran in the last-minute try that sealed Ireland’s fate.

You can watch all the World Series action live on the World Rugby Sevens website, while there will be updates across Irish Rugby social channels and reports here on IrishRugby.ie.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC Cape Town Sevens, Cape Town Stadium, December 9-11, 2022):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Will Goddard (IQ Rugby)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
Aaron O’Sullivan (UCD RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC Cape Town Sevens:

Friday, December 9 –


IRELAND 19 JAPAN 5, Cape Town Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Harry McNulty, Chay Mullins 2; Cons: Hugo Lennox, Mark Roche
Japan: Try: Kameli Soejima
HT: Ireland 7 Japan 5

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Aaron O’Sullivan, Zac Ward, Sean Cribbin, Hugo Lennox, Ed Kelly, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Mark Roche, Jack Kelly, Chay Mullins, Andrew Smith, Bryan Mollen.

Day 1 Round-Up: Roche Reaches World Series Century Mark In Cape Town

Saturday, December 10 –


IRELAND 19 URUGUAY 22, Cape Town Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Aaron O’Sullivan, Niall Comerford, Chay Mullins; Cons: Niall Comerford, Hugo Lennox
Uruguay: Tries: Diego Ardao, Mateo Vinals, Ignacio Facciolo 2; Con: Guillermo Lijtenstein
HT: Ireland 12 Uruguay 12

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Chay Mullins, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Andrew Smith, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen, Ed Kelly. Not used: Sean Cribbin.

IRELAND 21 SAMOA 14, Cape Town Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Harry McNulty; Cons: Mark Roche 3
Samoa: Tries: Paul Scanlan, Tuna Tuitama; Cons: Paul Scanlan, Neueli Leitufia
HT: Ireland 7 Samoa 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Andrew Smith, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Ed Kelly, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Hugo Lennox, Chay Mullins, Bryan Mollen. Not used: Zac Ward, Niall Comerford.

Sunday, December 11 –


IRELAND v KENYA, Cape Town Stadium, 9.56am local time/7.56am Irish time