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First Win For Ireland Universities Sevens Team At FISU World Championship

First Win For Ireland Universities Sevens Team At FISU World Championship

First Win For Ireland Universities Sevens Team At FISU World Championship

Captain Eva Sterritt scored the opening try for the Ireland Universities Women's Sevens team against India in Aix-en-Provence ©Guillaume Mirand/FISU World University Championship

The Ireland Universities Women’s Sevens team ran in five tries against India to register their first win at the 2024 FISU World University Championship Rugby Sevens tournament in Aix-en-Provence.

Eva Sterritt, who captained the Ireland Under-18s to a European bronze medal in 2022, is leading the latest national side to emerge from within the IRFU Women’s Rugby and Sevens pathways.

Coached by Neill Alcorn, with support from Katie Fitzhenry, the Women’s National WNTS and Talent Identification Manager, Ireland began day two of the World University Championship with a well-judged 27-12 win over India.

A late Laoise McGonagle try – her second of the day – was Ireland’s only score in a 25-5 defeat to tournament hosts France. They have finished fourth in Pool B and will play Poland in tomorrow’s 7th place play-off at 11.30am local time/10.30am Irish time (live on www.fisu.tv).

Following on from yesterday’s opening pool matches, Ireland were determined to open their win account against India. They established an early territorial dominance, utilising the athletic Onilenia as a ball carrier.

The breakthrough came in the second minute when Sterritt, who was part of the inaugural Ireland Under-20 Women’s squad last summer, picked from a ruck, shrugged off one defender and took another with her over the try-line.

Gemma Faulkner, Galwegians’ Women’s Player of the Year this season, reeled in Naina to deny India a breakaway try, with Onilenia also earning a turnover penalty right in front of the Irish posts.

However, from the resulting scrum, Ujjwala Ramdas Ghuge snapped up possession to score and convert, making it 7-5. It was McGonagle who swiftly regained the lead for Ireland.

The pacy ATU Galway student gathered in the restart, displaying her renowned pace from the Energia All-Ireland League to break free from just inside her own 22, evading Sandhyarani Tudu’s tackle to leave it 10-7 at half-time.

The Irish bench brought plenty of impact from the restart, with Paige Smyth carrying powerfully twice in quick succession. Nice hands from Rhiaan Heery and Sterritt freed up Sarah O’Donnell, another of the replacements, to crash over in the left corner.

An 11th-minute counter attack netted Ireland’s next try, as Amy Rushton’s kick through went loose, O’Donnell was first to pounce on it and weighted her pass perfectly to send Onilenla surging in under the posts from 35 metres out. Rushton converted.

Akanksha Anand Katkade raced down the left wing to pull back five points for India, but Ireland made sure to have the final say, as well-timed offloads from Aoibhe O’Flynn and Heery led to O’Donnell spinning out of a tackle to complete her brace.

Ireland had to play catch-up against France, as an early scrum gave the host nation the platform to release Enea Vey for the whitewash. They doubled their lead to 10 points in the fifth minute when Noemie Begasse went over in the left corner.

A couple of loose passes prevented Alcorn’s charges from building some phases in attack, and Clemence Berthet’s jinking run took her past Onilenla and McGonagle to go over out wide in the seventh minute.

Handling errors from both sides made for a stop-start opening to the second half, and despite very good defensive coverage by Rushton from a scrum, France managed to counter for their fourth try in the 10th minute.

Florine Thiron retrieved Faulkner’s kick just outside the Irish 22, and used a couple of well-timed hand-offs to propel herself over in the right corner. Now trailing by 20 points, Ireland soon gained ground through a well-executed kick and collect from McGonagle.

The Irish team managed to open their account soon after, as France suffered two sin-binnings during the closing stages. They conceded a series of penalties and paid the price with both Flavie Richaume and try scorer Vey seeing yellow.

Ballynahinch starlet Smyth, a nominee for the Ulster Young Women’s Player of the Year award, tapped a penalty and sucked in a couple of defenders inside the French 22, allowing O’Flynn to move quick ruck ball on to Rushton who delivered a crisp pass for McGonagle to touch down.

Despite a scrappy finish to the match from their point of view, France did manage to squeeze in a late fifth try as a break down the right wing saw Thiron evade a couple of tackles to double her tally.

IRELAND UNIVERSITIES WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2024 FISU World University Championship Rugby Sevens, Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence, France, Monday, June 10-Wednesday, June 12, 2024):

Gemma Faulkner (ATU Galway)
Rhiann Heery (Technological University of the Shannon)
Cara Martin (Dublin City University)
Laoise McGonagle (University of Limerick)
Sarah O’Donnell (Dublin City University)
Aoibhe O’Flynn (University of Limerick)
Lily Onilenla (Dublin City University)
Amy Rushton (SETU Carlow)
Paige Smyth (Ulster University)
Eva Sterritt (University of Exeter/IQ Rugby) (capt)
Lucy Thompson (Ulster University)
Sophie Treanor (Dublin City University)

Ireland Universities Women’s Sevens Management Team:

Head Coach – Neill Alcorn
Team Manager – Katie Fitzhenry
Physio – Naomi Hamilton
S&C – Cormac Murray

IRELAND UNIVERSITIES WOMEN’S SEVENS Schedule – 2024 FISU World University Championship Rugby Sevens:

Monday, June 10 –


CANADA 45 IRELAND 7, Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence
Scorers: Canada: Tries: Vanessa Chiappetta 3, Savannagh Bauder, Angie Olukunmi, Olivia Sarabura, Natalie Armatage; Cons: Savannah Bauder 4, Vanessa Chiappetta
Ireland: Try: Lily Onilenla; Con: Amy Rushton
HT: Canada 21 Ireland 7

Team: Paige Smyth, Eva Sterritt (capt), Aoibhe O’Flynn, Amy Rushton, Gemma Faulkner, Lily Onilenla, Laoise McGonagle.

Replacements used: Sarah O’Donnell, Rhiann Heery, Sophie Treanor, Cara Martin, Lucy Thompson.

AUSTRALIA 31 IRELAND 0, Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence
Scorers: Australia: Tries: Meg Gemmell 2, Indiahna Frawley, Piper Flynn, Tess Orton; Cons: Piper Flynn 3
Ireland: –
HT: Australia 14 Ireland 0

Team: Paige Smyth, Eva Sterritt (capt), Sarah O’Donnell, Rhiann Heery, Gemma Faulkner, Lily Onilenla, Laoise McGonagle.

Replacements used: Amy Rushton, Aoibhe O’Flynn, Cara Martin, Lucy Thompson, Sophie Treanor.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Universities Women’s Sevens Team Make FISU World Championship Debut

Tuesday, June 11 –


INDIA 12 IRELAND 27, Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence
Scorers: India: Tries: Ujjwala Ramdas Ghuge, Akanksha Anand Katkade; Con: Ujjwala Ramdas Ghuge
Ireland: Tries: Eva Sterritt, Laoise McGonagle, Sarah O’Donnell 2, Lily Onilenia; Con: Amy Rushton
HT: India 7 Ireland 10

Team: Lucy Thompson, Sophie Treanor, Cara Martin, Gemma Faulkner, Eva Sterritt (capt), Lily Onilenia, Laoise McGonagle.

Replacements used: Paige Smyth, Rhiaan Heery, Sarah O’Donnell, Amy Rushton, Aoibhe O’Flynn.

IRELAND 5 FRANCE 25, Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence
Scorers: France: Try: Laoise McGonagle
France: Tries: Enea Vey, Noemie Begasse, Clemence Berthet, Florine Thiron 2
HT: Ireland 0 France 15

Team: Paige Smyth, Eva Sterritt (capt), Sarah O’Donnell, Rhiann Heery, Gemma Faulkner, Lily Onilenla, Laoise McGonagle.

Replacements used: Amy Rushton, Aoibhe O’Flynn, Cara Martin, Lucy Thompson. Not used: Sophie Treanor.

Wednesday, June 12 –


POLAND v IRELAND, Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence, kick-off 11.30am local time/10.30am Irish time