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Ireland Men Finish Season As Rugby Europe Sevens Champions

Ireland Men Finish Season As Rugby Europe Sevens Champions

Ireland Men Finish Season As Rugby Europe Sevens Champions

Ireland Men's Sevens captain Harry McNulty lifts the Rugby Europe Championship trophy, surrounded by his team-mates in the Hamburg sunshine

Captain Harry McNulty lifted the Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Series trophy in Hamburg as the Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) were crowned champions for the second time.

It was a case of mission accomplished as they added the Rugby Europe Championship title – their first since 2018 – to their recent European Games gold and Olympic qualification.

Defeats to hosts Germany and Spain ended the Ireland Men’s unbeaten summer run, but Chay Mullins’ last-minute try earned a 12-7 Bronze final win over Great Britain and ensured they finished top of the overall rankings.

Coached this weekend by IRFU coach Sam Myers in the absence of James Topping, Ireland picked up a total of 36 points across the two legs, including last month’s Algarve Sevens which they won.

France finished second on 34 points and Spain, the eventual Hamburg Sevens champions, were third with a 30-point tally. The last two Rugby Europe Championship crowns had been won by Spain, in 2021 and 2022.

While disappointed to lose a tight Cup semi-final to Spain courtesy of a golden point try, McNulty said: “Half the guys (in the squad) probably didn’t get to play the last two tournaments, so for the last tournament of the year it was important to get them some good rugby.

“Rugby Europe is difficult, all the games are so tough so it’s been great for them. To come third and win the overall European title is great for us.

“There were some good learnings, including for myself as captain, in the tight moments when the pressure is on. Now we get a bit of a break and we can take it into next season.”

Ireland made the best possible start to their semi-final against Spain, with Mullins cruising over on the left for a try inside 30 seconds. Matthew McDonald had batted back the kick-off and Zac Ward made the initial incision in midfield.

Ward forced a knock-on to thwart a Spanish attack, and it was the big Ballynahinch forward who powered through a gap for Ireland’s second try, following a nicely-timed inside pass from Hugo Lennox.

Spain got into their attacking groove before half-time, though, and took Ireland out to both wings on numerous occasions before Tiago Romero broke a tackle to close the gap to 12-5.

Inside the first 90 seconds of the second half, Mullins impressively glided in between two defenders and turned on the afterburners to score from halfway. Lennox’s conversion restored Ireland’s 12-point lead.

However, it was not enough in the end as Spain rallied to claim a rousing comeback victory. It all started with Miguel Reina’s long-range effort from his own kick through, which he converted himself.

Building from a penalty, Juan Ramos then showed his strength to score from close range despite the efforts of the covering Billy Dardis and Niall Comerford. Reina’s conversion tied things up at 19-all with just over two minutes remaining.

Mullins continued to be Ireland’s most potent runner, although a late attack faltered with Comerford knocking on. The Irish defence held firm in response, with a Spanish knock-on meaning extra-time was called for.

There was little between the teams as the stalemate ensued, Comeford coming up with some big moments with a turnover penalty and then an interception a few phases later.

It took over five minutes of additional time to separate the sides and it was Spain who triumphed 24-19. Estanislao Bay launched a kick chase out wide, Dylan O’Grady and Bay fought for it right on the Irish line and the ball broke loose for Juan Martinez to touch down.

That gut-wrenching loss left Ireland competing for the bronze medal, and their hopes of a podium finish took an early hit when Britain’s Grant Hughes barged over for a first minute try, converted by Arthur Lennon.

Ireland leaked a third penalty at the breakdown before applying pressure in attack. Ross McCann infringed at a ruck to earn a yellow card, but Comerford was stopped just short as it remained 7-0.

It took a big scrum shove for the men in green to earn turnover ball close to the British line. Lennox secured the possession on the ground before Ward broke away from the ruck for a well-taken score, converted with aplomb by Lennox.

A series of knock-ons made for a scrappy second half, with Britain also losing two lineouts. The second one allowed Mullins to gain ground up the left, taking play back into the GB 22 where McDonald also went quickly from a penalty.

With the British defence knocked out of shape, Sean Cribbin’s bouncing pass found Mullins out wide and he cut in off his left for the decisive score – his third try of the day – with just over 13 minutes on the clock.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Series – Leg 2, Hamburg Sevens, Germany, Friday, July 7-Sunday, July 9, 2023):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matthew McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (Lansdowne FC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Aaron O’Sullivan (UCD RFC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – Hamburg Sevens:

Friday, July 7 –


IRELAND 50 CZECHIA 0, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Lennox, Aaron O’Sullivan, Zac Ward, Chay Mullins, Dylan O’Grady 2, Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford; Cons: Hugo Lennox 4, Ed Kelly
Czechia: –
HT: Ireland 28 Czechia 0

Watch Match Video

Team: Aaron O’Sullivan, Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Chay Mullins, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Niall Comerford, Ed Kelly, Bryan Mollen, Harry McNulty (capt), Billy Dardis.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Hit Half-Century Mark In Hamburg Sevens Opener

Saturday, July 8 –


IRELAND 0 GERMANY 24, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: –
Germany: Tries: Nikolai Klewinghaus, Jakob Dipper 3; Cons: Nikolai Klewinghaus, Niklas Koch
HT: Ireland 0 Germany 12

Watch Match Video

Team: Aaron O’Sullivan, Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Ed Kelly, Sean Cribbin, Bryan Mollen, Chay Mullins.

Subs used: Matthew McDonald, Harry McNulty (capt), Hugo Lennox, Dylan O’Grady. Not used: Billy Dardis.

IRELAND 12 SPAIN 10, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Zac Ward; Con: Billy Dardis
Spain: Tries: Tiago Romero, Aratz de Goicoechea
HT: Ireland 7 Spain 0

Watch Match Video

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Bryan Mollen, Chay Mullins, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Sean Cribbin, Matthew McDonald, Aaron O’Sullivan, Ed Kelly. Not used: Hugo Lennox.


PORTUGAL 12 IRELAND 19, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Portugal: Tries: Joao Antunes, Vasco Camara; Con: Joao Antunes
Ireland: Tries: Harry McNulty, Dylan O’Grady 2; Cons: Hugo Lennox 2
HT: Portugal 7 Ireland 14

Watch Match Video

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Aaron O’Sullivan, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Ed Kelly, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Chay Mullins, Matthew McDonald, Bryan Mollen.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland Men Set For Spain Rematch At Hamburg Sevens

Sunday, July 9 –


IRELAND 19 SPAIN 24 (after extra-time), Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Chay Mullins 2, Zac Ward; Cons: Hugo Lennox 2
Spain: Tries: Tiago Romero, Miguel Reina, Juan Ramos, Juan Martinez; Cons: Miguel Reina 2
HT: Ireland 12 Spain 5

Watch Match Video

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen, Chay Mullins, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Niall Comerford, Sean Cribbin, Billy Dardis, Aaron O’Sullivan. Not used: Ed Kelly.


GREAT BRITAIN 7 IRELAND 12, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Great Britain: Try: Grant Hughes; Con: Arthur Lennon
Ireland: Tries: Zac Ward, Chay Mullins; Con: Hugo Lennox
HT: Great Britain 7 Ireland 7

Watch Match Video

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen, Chay Mullins, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Matthew McDonald, Sean Cribbin, Aaron O’Sullivan, Billy Dardis. Not used: Ed Kelly.