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Ireland Men Win Back-To-Back HSBC SVNS Series Medals For First Time

Ireland Men Win Back-To-Back HSBC SVNS Series Medals For First Time

Ireland Men Win Back-To-Back HSBC SVNS Series Medals For First Time

Ireland Sevens debutant Zac McConnell is pictured in action against Australia during the 3rd place play-off in Hong Kong ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

Captain Harry McNulty praised Hugo Lennox for ‘a little big of magic’ as his two tries ensured the Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) finished as bronze medallists at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Knocked out of Cup contention by a 26-10 defeat to LA 7s champions France, James Topping’s side rallied impressively to beat Australia 14-5 in the 3rd place play-off at the iconic Hong Kong Stadium.

Wily scrum half Lennox scored both tries in the first half, including a classy solo score from his own kick through, as the Ireland Men followed up on their podium finish in Los Angeles to win back-to-back HSBC SVNS Series medals for the first time.

Their enviable consistency on the circuit this season has seen them bag bronzes in Perth, LA and now Hong Kong, while they have had top four finishes at the last five tournaments.

Ireland’s highest ever finish in Hong Kong saw them pick up 16 points as the second-placed team (86 points) in the overall standings. They have closed the gap on Series leaders Argentina to eight points, ahead of next month’s Singapore Sevens and the inaugural Grand Final in Madrid.

Speaking in the aftermath of the victory over Australia, McNulty said: “We’ve played against Australia so many times, they’ve always been close games. I think we just did really well to score nicely, and quickly, in the first half.

“A little bit of magic from Hugo, those are the bounce of the balls that you kind of need sometimes, especially in games like this where it’s going to be really tight.

“I’m just really proud of the boys for bouncing back from a lacklustre semi-final from our point of view. I think this weekend has been really special. We’ve got a new cap in Zac McConnell who went really well.

“I think this is the first time we’ve done back-to-back medals as well, so that’s quite important for us as a team, the consistency. Five years ago to the day, we qualified for the World Series here.

“We talked about the history and how that changed our path as Sevens players to get the core (status), and now we’re able to get bronze medals in Hong Kong five years later, it’s fantastic.”

Along with McConnell’s debut, the individual highlights from the weekend included Terry Kennedy’s hat-trick in the quarter-final triumph over the USA – he scored five tries across the three days – and forward Zac Ward continued his brilliant form with four tries.

Defences were on top in the bronze medal decider until Lennox broke the deadlock in the fourth minute. Australia gave a first start to debutant Michael Hooper, the former Australia 15s captain.

Ireland built some phases off a lineout, with Ward and Niall Comerford making good ground before McNulty’s arcing skip pass put Lennox over from the right wing, past the covering Henry Paterson.

Having dispatched the conversion, Lennox delighted the Irish fans with a second quick-fire score. He used Ward’s restart win to kick through from halfway, and got his right boot to the ball just as James Turner attempted to gather it, nudging it past the try-line to touch down.

Australia lifted their game early in the second half, with Hayden Sargeant threatening off a strong counter ruck before Henry Hutchison knocked on a return pass just inside Ireland’s 22.

Ed Kelly slotted in at scrum half, and a well-judged kick downfield from Bryan Mollen landed Australia back inside their own 22. McNulty stole the resulting lineout, with a subsequent penalty and scrum keeping Ireland in the right areas of the pitch.

McConnell got some rare space to attack on the left wing, flinging an ambitious offload back inside that a lunging Mollen just knocked on under pressure from Ben Dowling. Still, Australia had a scrum close to their own line with little over three minutes remaining.

A knock-on and an offside call against them added to Australia’s frustration. Despite Henry Palmer putting boot to ball twice and winning the race to touch down with eight seconds left, replacement Maurice Longbottom’s missed conversion left them out of the running.

Earlier on today, France were able to strike first in the quarter-final, dominating possession from the kick-off before Andy Timo used his strength and distribution skills to send Varian Pasquet clear in the second minute.

McDonald won a penalty at the breakdown to give Ireland a foothold, and he was also first to the ball inside the French 22 after it had been stripped backwards. Gavin Mullin did really well to create space on the left for Kelly, who was hauled down just short by Aaron Grandidier.

Possession was retained and McNulty shipped a bouncing pass out to the right wing where Ward cut past both Timo and Stephen Parez-Edo Martin for his 22nd try of the season.

Mark Roche’s missed conversion was preceded by a yellow card for Jordan Sepho, who had caught Kelly high in a tackle. Crucially, Parez-Edo Martin stung Ireland with a sixth-minute try, jinking inside Kelly and scampering away to score behind the posts.

Ward prevented Aaron Grandidier from adding a late first half score, but with the men in green struggling to regain possession from restarts, Grandidier, the returning Sepho, and Nelson Épée unlocked the defence for Antoine Zeghdar to cross out wide.

Replacement Joachim Trouabal’s 10th-minute effort, straight from the restart as he got away from both Ward and Sean Cribbin, was a real hammer blow to Ireland’s hopes. Suddenly, the half-time deficit went from 14-5 to 26-5 in the space of three minutes.

The French defence proved tough to break down, with Ireland unable to make use of a Comerford turnover penalty. Their only consolation was a well-taken Kennedy try in the left corner from a deft Lennox kick.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2024 HSBC SVNS Series – Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, Friday, April 5-Sunday, April 7, 2024):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Zac McConnell (Ireland Sevens) *
Matthew McDonald (Ireland Sevens)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

* Denotes uncapped player

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC SVNS Series – Hong Kong:

Friday, April 5 –


IRELAND 17 SOUTH AFRICA 22, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Zac Ward, Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford; Con: Hugo Lennox
South Africa: Tries: Shilton van Wyk, Dewald Human, Quewin Nortje, Ryan Oosthuizen; Con: Dewald Human
HT: Ireland 0 South Africa 17

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Gavin Mullin, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Terry Kennedy, Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford, Hugo Lennox, Chay Mullins.

IRELAND 12 SAMOA 7, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Zac Ward; Con: Mark Roche
Samoa: Try: Motu Opetai; Con: Neueli Leitufia
HT: Ireland 0 Samoa 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Zac McConnell.

Replacements used: Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Gavin Mullin, Chay Mullins. Not used: Ed Kelly.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Overhaul Samoa To Sit Second In Hong Kong Pool

Saturday, April 6 –


IRELAND 12 SPAIN 5, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Ed Kelly, Gavin Mullin; Con: Mark Roche
Spain: Try: Alejandro Laforga
HT: Ireland 7 Spain 5

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Gavin Mullin, Zac McConnell, Hugo Lennox, Niall Comerford, Bryan Mollen.


USA 19 IRELAND 24, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: USA: Tries: Kevon Williams 2, Aaron Cummings; Cons: Madison Hughes 2
Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy 3, Zac Ward; Cons: Mark Roche 2
HT: USA 12 Ireland 12

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Zac McConnell.

Replacements used: Bryan Mollen, Ed Kelly, Sean Cribbin, Matthew McDonald, Hugo Lennox.

Day 2 Round-Up: Hat-Trick Hero Kennedy Keeps Ireland Men In Hong Kong Hunt

Sunday, April 6 –


IRELAND 10 FRANCE 26, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Zac Ward, Terry Kennedy
France: Tries: Varian Pasquet, Stephen Parez Edo Martin, Antoine Zeghdar, Joachim Trouabal; Cons: Stephen Parez Edo Martin 3
HT: Ireland 5 France 14

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Niall Comerford, Sean Cribbin, Bryan Mollen, Hugo Lennox, Zac McConnell.


IRELAND 14 AUSTRALIA 5, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Lennox 2; Cons: Hugo Lennox 2
Australia: Try: Henry Palmer
HT: Ireland 14 Australia 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen, Gavin Mullin, Zac McConnell.

Replacements used: Ed Kelly, Terry Kennedy, Matthew McDonald, Sean Cribbin, Mark Roche.