As part of its continued commitment and investment in the development of the Women’s Pathway, the IRFU is delighted to launch a new University 7s competition which will take place this Spring.
Following on from the establishment of Centre of Excellence hubs at six Universities in 2023, the IRFU University 7s will take place across four tournament days in February and March featuring a team from each Province.
University of Galway (28th February), Queen’s University (6th March), University of Limerick (13th March) and SETU Carlow (20th March) will each host a round, further strengthening the relationship between the IRFU and its University partners while expanding the rugby opportunities for young female athletes, from all sports, in the University system in Ireland.
Additionally, the introduction of the University 7s to the domestic calendar will provide Women’s National Talent Squad (WNTS) players with access to competitive Sevens game-time, acting as a springboard from the underage U16 and U18 Inter-Provincial Sevens Series to a senior green jersey.
Leinster (DCU and SETU Carlow), Munster (UL), Connacht (University of Galway and ATU Sligo) and Ulster (Queen’s University) will go head-to-head over the course of four tournament weeks, with each round containing six fixtures in a round robin format. An IQ Rugby team will also compete at the Queen’s University
Developed in line with the IRFU’s vision to building a sustainable talent identification network, the addition of the University 7s tournament to the Pathway structure is designed to invite and attract female athletes within the University system to rugby, the Sevens format providing the perfect gateway to the sport and allowing the WNTS Pathway Staff to work with, and develop, new talent.
Commenting on the launch of the University 7s, Audrey O’Flynn, IRFU High Performance Project Manager, said: “We are excited to today launch plans for a new high-level tournament within our Women’s Pathway, a key addition to the season calendar.
“The establishment of the six Centre of Excellence hubs last May has ensured our young players have access to world class facilities and coaching and now the introduction of the University 7s tournament is another positive development, providing those players with an additional platform to develop and showcase their talents.
“Working closely with our University partners and WNTS Pathways staff, we are equally excited about growing the game within third level education in Ireland and look forward to bringing the University 7s tournament to four campuses over the coming months.”
IRFU Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways, Gillian McDarby, added: “As our Women’s Sevens squad build towards the 2024 Paris Olympics, we are delighted to launch the IRFU University 7s competition.
“Mobilising our vision for the Pathways structure has been a key focus over the last 12 months and we continue to put the building blocks in place, ensuring we have the systems and platforms available to introduce potential players to rugby at all levels.
“The ongoing work of our WNTS Pathways staff in all our Centre of Excellence hubs ensures we have a strong presence in six Universities, and the introduction of the University 7s widens the opportunities to prospective players and showcases a clear path for them to achieve their potential, whether that’s for club, Province, or in a green jersey at a Rugby World Cup or Olympics.”
As part of their preparation for the Singapore leg of the HSBC SVNS Series, the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad – fresh off their historic title victory in Perth – will attend the third round of the University 7s in Limerick on 13th March, competing in an inter-squad hit out.
“The addition of the University 7s tournament to the calendar is a really exciting development and an important part of our pathways structure as we look to Paris 2024 and beyond,” Head Coach Allan Temple-Jones said.
“Inspiring new generations of young girls to play rugby is a stated ambition for our current squad and we look forward to attending University of Limerick as part of what promises to be a brilliant four weeks of Sevens.”
Following the conclusion of the University 7s, a National Universities team will be selected to represent Ireland at the 2024 World University Championships in France in June.
Fixtures and squad lists for the University 7s will be announced later this month.
IRFU University 7s 2024:
- 28th February: University of Galway
- 6th March: Queen’s University Belfast
- 13th March: University of Limerick
- 20th March: SETU Carlow.