It all comes down to the final Round in Toulouse.
After a long season, the race to secure automatic qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games reaches a thrilling conclusion at the France Sevens this weekend, with Ireland Women, sponsored by TritonLake, bidding to make history at Stade Ernest Wallon.
Currently occupying the fourth and final qualification berth for next summer’s Games, Ireland Women know a higher finish than both Fiji and Great Britain at the concluding leg of the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Toulouse will see them book their ticket to Paris.
The Lucy Mulhall-captained side have been battling hard all Series and just four points separates Ireland (64), Fiji (62) and Great Britain (60) as the three teams vying to join New Zealand, Australia, USA and hosts France as the automatic qualifiers for the Olympics.
With Ireland Women set to face France, Australia in Brazil in Friday and Saturday’s Pool action in Toulouse, and rivals Fiji and Great Britain paired together in Pool C, the race to Paris 2024 is set for a dramatic finale this weekend.
Having missed out on qualification for Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, Ireland Women have worked incredibly hard during this qualification cycle to put themselves in this position heading into the final weekend of the Series and if they can secure the golden ticket, it would be another landmark moment for the Ireland Sevens programme.
It is, however, important to note that this weekend is not the final opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. June’s European Games in Krakow offers the tournament winner a spot in Paris 2024, while the runner up in Poland will progress through to a World Repechage for one last chance to qualify.
“We’re feeling very excited for this weekend,” Ireland captain Mulhall said. “It’s nice to play close to home so there we’ve got a large contingent of family coming over to watch us so we’re really excited.
“We’re hoping this weekend is third time lucky for some of us to qualify for the Olympics. There’s everything to play for and we knew going into the last tournament that it was going to come right down to the end so it’s really exciting and really special to hopefully qualify here in Toulouse with our family support behind us.”
Ireland Women open their France Sevens campaign against the host nation on Friday morning (10.28am Irish time), before going head-to-head with Australia under the lights in Toulouse (7.05pm Irish time). They conclude their Pool games against Brazil on Saturday morning (9.43am Irish time).
You can watch all the action on the World Rugby Sevens Series website and app, while there will be live updates throughout the weekend on the Irish Rugby Twitter and Instagram channels.
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC France Sevens, Stade Ernest Wallon, Friday, May 12 – Sunday, May 14, 2023):
Kathy Baker (Blackrock College RFC)
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Katie Heffernan (Railway Union RFC)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Emily Lane (Blackrock College RFC)
Kate Farrell McCabe (Suttonians RFC)
Anna McGann (Railway Union RFC)
Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC)
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Schedule –HSBC France Sevens:
Friday, May 12 –
- Ireland Women v France – 11.28am local time/10.28am Irish time
- Ireland Women v Australia – 8.05pm local time/7.05pm Irish time
Saturday, May 13 –
- Ireland Women v Brazil – 10.43am local time/9.43am Irish time.
Saturday, May 14 –
- Play-off matches.