Ireland national rugby sevens team
|Union||Irish Rugby Football Union|
|World Cup Sevens|
|Appearances||6 (First in 1993)|
|Best result||1993 Cup 3rd Place|
The Ireland national rugby sevens team competes annually in European competition. Ireland participates in the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series, having been promoted to the Grand Prix competition after winning the 2016 Rugby Europe Trophy division. Ireland has previously competed in individual tournaments within World Rugby Sevens Series, and has stated its goal of winning promotion to core team status in the World Series.
Ireland also competes in quadrennial rugby sevens tournaments. Ireland has competed in most Rugby World Cup Sevens since the 1993 inaugural event. The team also competes during European qualifying phases for the Summer Olympics, but failed to qualify for the inaugural rugby sevens competition at the 2016 Olympics.
Following the announcement in 2009 that rugby sevens would be an Olympic sport beginning in 2016, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) created a men's rugby sevens program in 2014. The IRFU announced in 2015 its goal to field a national sevens team that has a chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and joins the Sevens World Series by 2017.
At the penultimate World Rugby Sevens Series event in London in 2018, the Irish team "stole the show", finishing in third place in their first World Series tournament since 2004, Ireland thus becoming the first invitational side to reach the semi-finals and then the podium of a World Rugby Sevens Series event. Invited to the following event in Paris, Ireland finished seventh, their second top half finish as an invitational side, and the first invitational side to do so.
Ireland competed at the 1973 International Seven-A-Side Tournament, the first rugby sevens tournament for national teams. They defeated New Zealand, Australia and Scotland in the groups phase, and lost to England in the final match.
Olympic era (2009–present)
Ireland has increased its emphasis in rugby sevens since the International Olympic Committee voted in 2009 to restore rugby to the Olympics beginning in 2016. In March 2011, the IRFU announced its support for Shamrock Warriors RFC. The club's aim is to develop a pool of experienced Sevens players for the IRFU to be in position to select to develop into a future international Sevens squad to compete in tournaments by giving them experience playing in the top level competition should the IRFU become involved in professional international sevens or in the Olympic Sevens.
Although rugby was announced in 2009 as an Olympic sport, the IRFU was slow to recognize the opportunity. As of September 2013, the IRFU said it was unlikely to send a sevens team to the 2016 Olympics. The IRFU did not introduce a men's rugby sevens national team program until October 2014. The IRFU announced in December 2014 the hiring of Anthony Eddy as the Director of Irish rugby sevens, both the men's and women's teams. In December 2014 the IRFU issued a notice to all Irish athletes to see what if could become an Elite Sevens rugby player. The IRFU hoped to see the best rugby club talent available as well as attracting athletes with transferable skills from other team sports such as athletics, basketball, and Gaelic Games. The IRFU held four talent identification days across Ireland in January 2015.
The IRFU announced in May 2015 its brand new 27-man squad for the 2015 season, selected out of a pool of more than 300 applicants, a squad that later became known as “The Originals”. The new team started at the bottom, beginning the 2015 season in Europe’s Division C, with an eye towards gaining promotion to higher levels of competition. The highlight of Ireland's 2015 and 2016 seasons was the attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. At the 2015 Europe Olympic Repechage Tournament, Ireland finished with 4–1–1 record, and despite a 10–24 semifinal loss to Russia, their third place finish gained the last European slot for the 2016 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament. At the 2016 Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Ireland finished pool play with a 3–0 record including a 27–21 win over Samoa, but with losses to Spain (7–12) and Canada (19–24) during knockout play Ireland failed to advance to the 2016 Olympics.
Entering the 2017 season, with the Irish men's rugby sevens program in place for just over two years, the IRFU still had not handed out any full-time professional contracts to any sevens players. For the 2017 summer season, Ireland played in the European Grand Prix Sevens, which included four tournaments during summer 2017. Ireland began the Grand Prix by winning the first tournament, the 2017 Moscow Sevens, defeating Spain 12–0 in the final.
For the 2017–18 season, Ireland selected a core squad of 14 players that would prioritize Sevens play for the autumn 2017 tournaments, although they are not full-time Sevens players, and they retain their club status. Ireland finished ninth at the 2017 Silicon Valley Sevens with a 3–2 record; their record against World Series core teams was a respectable 2–2, with two wins over Canada.
As of December 2018 the IRFU was due to announce shortly their first-ever professional contracts for sevens players. In May 2019, despite the squad qualifying for the World Rugby Sevens Series, the IRFU announced that players would remain on an 18,000 basic annual salary with bonuses of 500 for participating in each of the 10 World Series tournaments — the equivalent of a development contract.
The following players comprise Ireland's squad for the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens qualifier tournament of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
|12||Bryan Mollen||Centre||23||2017||Dublin Univ.|
|Olympic Games record|
|2016||Did Not Qualify|
|2016||2015 European repechage||3rd||6||4||1||1||+31||Qualified for 2016 intercontinental repechage|
|2016 Intercontinental repechage||7th||5||3||0||2||+27||Failed to qualify for 2016 Olympics|
|2020||2019 Europe qualifying tournament||3rd||6||4||1||1||+107||Qualified for 2020 intercontinental playoff|
|2020 intercontinental playoff|
2016 Olympics qualifying
Ireland began Olympic qualifying by playing in Division C within Europe. In the June 6–7 2015 Division C tournament, Ireland went 6-0 in the competition to win Division C, winning all six matches by a comfortable margin. This win qualified them to participate in Division B. In the June 20–21, 2015 Division B tournament, Ireland again went 6-0 to win Division B, again winning all six matches by a comfortable margin. This win qualified them for the European repechage tournament.
In the July 18–19 2015 Rugby Europe sevens repechage in Lisbon, Ireland topped their group with wins over Italy and Georgia and a draw against Russia. In the knockout competition, Ireland defeated Lithuania 17–0 in the quarterfinals. Ireland then lost in the semifinals to Russia 10–24, but in the third-place match defeated Georgia 15–7 to finish third overall, and secure the third and final European qualifying place for the Final 2016 Men's Olympic Qualification Tournament.
The Irish team drew Samoa, Tonga and Zimbabwe in the final Olympic repechage tournament in Monaco. Ireland finished first in their group with three wins, including a close 27–21 over World Series team Samoa. Ireland lost in the quarterfinals to Spain 7–12, and did not qualify for the Olympics.
Rugby World Cup Sevens
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|Year||Round||Position||Pld||W||L||D||Most tries||Most tackles|
|2013||Did Not Enter|
|2018||Challenge Winner||9th||5||4||1||0||B. Dardis & J. Conroy (4)||Hugo Keenan (21)|
|Total||0 Titles||6/7||38||18||20||0||Richard Wallace (10)||Hugo Keenan (21)|
Ireland has played in six out of the seven Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments. Ireland's best finish was the inaugural 1993 tournament. In that tournament, they went 4–1 in pool play, including an upset win over France, to qualify to the quarterfinal round. In the quarterfinal round of pool play they went 2–1 with wins over Samoa and Tonga to reach the semifinals. Ireland faced Australia in the semifinal and was leading but an Australia try and conversion at the end resulted in a 19-21 loss.
Since the inaugural tournament, however, Ireland's performances were unremarkable in the four tournaments from 1997 to 2005, failing to reach the quarterfinals in four consecutive Sevens World Cups. At the 1997 tournament, Ireland posted a 1–5 record to finish 19th, including losses to minnows Hong Kong and Japan, with its only win a 33–5 victory over Portugal in the Bowl quarterfinal. In 2001, Ireland finished fifth in its group of six, unable to notch wins against Russia or Korea, relegating it to the Bowl competition; they defeated Chinese Taipei in the Bowl quarterfinal but lost 12–33 to Portugal in the Bowl semifinal.
In 2005, Ireland fared slightly better, with its 2–3 record in group play qualifying it for the Plate competition, where they lost to Samoa 14–19 in the Plate quarterfinal. In 2009, Ireland was up-and-down in pool play, notching a surprise win against Australia but a disappointing loss against Portugal. Ireland was one of three teams in a four-team group to finish with a 1–2 record in pool play, but Ireland was ranked last in the group on points difference and was relegated to the Bowl competition where they posted a 2–1 record in knockout play. Ireland did not qualify for the 2013 World Cup, failing to send a team to the 2012 Sevens Grand Prix qualifying tournaments.
Ireland had a better tournament in 2018, defeating core teams Kenya, Wales, and Australia en route to a ninth place finish, their best finish since the inaugural 1993 tournament.
World Rugby Sevens Series
Ireland to date has had a sparse participation in the World Rugby Sevens Series. Between 1999 and 2019 Ireland has not qualified as one of the core teams that participated in every tournament. Ireland played in very few tournaments on the World Series, such as the occasional trip to the Hong Kong Sevens. Ireland has had some limited success in the World Series tournaments in which it has played.
Ireland competed in two of the ten tournaments of the inaugural 1999–2000 World Sevens Series: at the 2000 Hong Kong Sevens, Ireland finished 17th to win the Bowl with a 4–2 record; at the 2000 Paris Sevens, Ireland finished tied for 11th with a 3–2 record. The following season, in the 2000–01 World Sevens Series, Ireland played in the 2000 Dubai Sevens where they finished 9th to win the Bowl with a 4–2 record, including a 19–17 semifinal win over Wales.
Ireland has, however, since assembling a permanent sevens program in 2014, publicly stated in 2014 and again in 2015 that its goal is to qualify as one of the 15 core teams in the World Series by the end of 2017. Due to their second-place finish at the 2017 Sevens Grand Prix Series, Ireland advanced to the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens qualifying tournament for the 2018–19 World Series. At the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens qualifier, Ireland posted a 3–0 record in pool play, winning all three matches by comfortable 20+ point margins, to advance to the knockout rounds. Ireland defeated Zimbabwe 38–5 in the quarterfinals, but lost to Japan 7–12 in the semifinal and failed to qualify. Ireland competed as an invitational team at the 2018 London Sevens and the 2018 Paris Sevens. At the 2018 London Sevens Ireland defeated the favoured United States and England teams en route to finishing third overall.
The following year, Ireland again played in the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens qualifier. Ireland won the tournament, defeating Hong Kong 28–7 in the final, with Jordan Conroy’s 10 tries across six matches earning him Player of the Tournament.
Season by season
|Series Season||Rank||Points||Events||Best event||Most tries||Most tackles|
|1999–2000||—||0||2 / 10||11th (Paris)|
|2000–01||17th||2||1 / 9||9th (Dubai)|
|2001–02||—||0||? / 11|
|2002–03||—||0||? / 7|
|2003–04||—||0||? / 8|
|2004–05||—||0||1 / 7||14th (Dubai)|
|04/05 – 16/17||Did not appear|
|2017–18||15th||27||2 / 10||3rd (London)||Jordan Conroy (11)||Harry McNulty (38)|
|2018–19||16th||19||2 / 10||6th (London)||Mick McGrath (6)||Hugo Lennox (18)|
|Total||—||29||6||3rd||Jordan Conroy (15)||Harry McNulty (51)|
|Season||Pool play||Knockout rounds||Most tries||Qualified|
|2018||3–0||SF: L vs Japan (7–12)||Terry Kennedy (5)||No|
|2019||2–1–0||F: W vs Hong Kong (28–7)||Jordan Conroy (10)||Yes|
|Matches||Win||Draw||Loss||Win Percentage||Points Scored|
- Updated as of 25 May 2019
|Season||Competition||Position||GP||W||D||L||Pts Diff||Promotion / Qualification|
|2004||Championship||3rd||Qualified for 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens|
|2008||Championship||4th||7||4||0||3||+33||Qualified for 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens|
|2015||Division C||1st||6||6||0||0||+271||Promoted to the 2015 Division B competition|
|2015||Division B||1st||6||6||0||0||+384||Qualified for 2015 Rugby Europe repechage; |
Promoted to 2016 Division A (Trophy) competition
|2015||Final repechage||3rd||6||4||1||1||+31||Qualified for 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament|
|2016||Trophy||1st||12||12||0||0||+451||Promoted to 2017 Grand Prix series|
|2017||Grand Prix||2nd||24||21||0||3||+349||Advanced to 2018 Hong Kong Sevens qualifier for World Series; |
Qualified for 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens
|2018||Grand Prix||1st||24||23||0||1||+642||Advanced to 2019 Hong Kong Sevens qualifier for World Series|
- Updated 24 June 2019
Although Rugby Europe has held a rugby sevens championship every year since 2002, Ireland rarely participated from 2002 to 2014. Ireland participated only twice during those 13 years − in 2004 and 2008, both of which served as European regional qualifying tournaments for the following year's Rugby World Cup Sevens. Ireland finished third in the 2004 competition to qualify for the 2005 World Cup. Ireland finished fourth in the 2008 competition to qualify for the 2009 World Cup.
The 2015 European competitions also doubled as qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. Ireland played in the Division C tournament on June 6–7 and won the tournament with a 6-0 record, its closest match being the 38–10 quarterfinal win over Austria, qualifying for Division B. Ireland then played the Division B tournament on June 20–21, and won Division B with a 6-0 record, its closest match being a 54–0 pool-play win over Slovenia, qualifying for the final repechage tournament.
Ireland played in the 2015 repechage on July 18–19 where they faced a tougher level of competition. Ireland went 2-1-0 in the repechage pool play to win its group and reach the knockout rounds. Ireland lost to Russia 10–24 in the semifinals but defeated Georgia 15–7 to take third place and secure the last qualifying spot for the final cross-continental Olympic qualifying tournament (where they lost in the quarterfinals to Spain and failed to reach the Olympics).
The 2016 Trophy competition consisted of two tournaments – Malmo and Prague. Ireland went 6-0 to win the 2016 Malmo tournament, with the closest match being the 26–12 semifinal win over Ukraine. Ireland next won the 2016 Prague tournament, again with a perfect 6-0 record, with the closest match being the 24–0 semifinal win over Romania. Ireland finished first in the 2016 Trophy competition and won promotion to the 2017 Grand Prix series.
The 2017 Grand Prix series consisted of four tournaments. Ireland began the Grand Prix by winning the 2017 Moscow Sevens with a 5–1 record, defeating Russia 28–21 in the semifinals and Spain 12–0 in the finals. Next, Ireland finished third in the 2017 Lodz Sevens with a 5–1 record, losing to Russia 19–26 in the semifinals. Ireland next won the 2017 Clermont-Ferrand Sevens with a 6–0 record, defeating Russia 17–14 in the final. In the fourth and final tournament, the 2017 Exeter Sevens, Ireland finished with a 5–1 record, losing to Wales 12–15 in the semifinals. Ireland finished the 2017 Sevens Grand Prix Series in second place two points behind Russia, thereby qualifying for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, and advancing to the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens qualifying tournament for the 2018-19 World Series.
In the 2018 Europe Grand Prix Series, Ireland started strong, winning the 2018 Moscow Sevens with a 6–0 record, winning all six matches by a margin of more than 20 points.
- 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens
- 1997 Rugby World Cup Sevens
- 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens
- 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens
Notable former players
- Ireland internationals
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- Hugh Farrelly (29 March 2011). "Warriors look to Rio". Independent.ie. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
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- Pools announced for Olympic Games rugby sevens repechage events
- "'We drew Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and thought 'oh lord ", Independent, Will Slattery, 23 April 2019.
- "Kiwis claim Hong Kong crown", BBC, 26 March 2000.
- "Ireland Men's Sevens Squad And Structures Announced", 19 May 2015.
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- "Moscow success gives Ireland Sevens World Cup boost", Irish Times, John O'Sullivan, 5 June 2017.
- "Ireland can secure place at Rugby Sevens World Cup", Irish Times, John O'Sullivan, 3 July 2017.
- "Sevens". www.irishrugby.ie. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "RWC Sevens: Ireland Match Schedule: Sevens Stats". www.irishrugby.ie. 15 March 2005. Archived from the original on 17 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "Ireland Squad Announced For RWC Sevens". www.irishrugby.ie. 23 February 2009. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.