The Ireland Women's Sevens squad are gearing up for the opening round of the new 2018-19 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series. The first of six rounds takes place this weekend in Glendale, Colorado. The following rounds take place in Dubai, Sydney, Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris.
Thirteen players have been selected in the Irish squad who have been drawn into Pool C alongside Canada, Fiji and France. Lucy Mulhall captains Ireland in what is a strong and exciting young side. Mallow youngster Emily Lane, is the latest World Series debutant after making her Seven’s debut last month in Kazan.
Ireland get their tournament underway against European rivals France at 5.52pm Irish time on Saturday. Last year was a massive year for Ireland as they made huge strides in their development. Ireland re-qualified as a core team for this season’s series as well as finishing fifth at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco. Follow the action this weekend here.
This season has huge importance for the Irish dream of competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee and World Rugby confirmed that there will be 11 qualification spots up for grabs with Japan automatically qualifying. Qualification for Tokyo will take place through three channels. The top four teams at this year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will qualify. An additional six teams will qualify through the regional Olympic qualification tournaments – this will be the Rugby Europe Grand Prix circuit next summer for Ireland. Finally, the last opportunity to qualify will be at the at the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament.
The IRFU have been making steps to prepare Ireland as best as possible for the qualification process. In 2014, Anthony Eddy was appointed as director of women’s and sevens rugby where the entire programme was re-invigorated. Last week, the IRFU handed 23 players contracts for the 2018/19 season. 11 players were handed full-time contracts while 12 players were given development contracts. The development pathway has been hugely successful so far for Ireland as a number of players have been making the successful transition to the senior team.
In what is a vital year for the Irish Women’s Seven’s team, we continue to see the large improvement in players and squad depth. With the success that was endured last season, the upcoming season could be their finest yet.
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Claire Boles (Railway Union/Ulster)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Railway Union/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Katie Heffernan (Mullingar/Railway Union/Leinster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Emily Lane (Mallow/Munster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere/Munster)
Audrey O'Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)