It's a a huge week for Ireland's Rugby Seven's side, in their bid to secure their first ever spot at the Women's Seven's Olympics.
Ireland's hopes of automatic qualification for Paris 2024 comes down to the final weekend of the HSBC Seven's Series which takes place at Stade Ernest Wallon, Tolouse, starting this Friday, 12 May.
After six rounds of action in the HSBC Seven's Series New Zealand, Australia and USA have secured their place at next summer’s Olympics. With France already receiving automatic qualification as hosts, Ireland, Fiji and Great Britain will fight for the final automatic spot this weekend.
— RugbyPlayersIreland (@RugbyPlayersIRE) May 8, 2023
After a frustrating eighth-place finish at the Hong Kong Sevens, Ireland remain in control of their own destiny. They currently sit fifth in the World Series standings. If they better or match Fiji and Great Britain's rankings this weekend, they will secure Ireland's Women a first-ever place at Olympic Games.
With 🇫🇷 (hosts), 🇳🇿, 🇦🇺 and 🇺🇸 already securing their place at @Paris2024, there is just one spot left for automatic Olympic qualification
That final place is being contested by @IrishRugby, @fijirugby and @gbrugbysevens
• For ☘️ to qualify, they need to finish ahead of 🇫🇯… pic.twitter.com/NT0JKzlpJ2
— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) May 8, 2023
Head Coach Temple Jones has selected a strong 13-player squad for Toulouse, as they prepare to face Australia, hosts France and Brazil in Friday and Saturday’s Pool action. Lucy Mulhall will captain the team once again, with the experience of Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood and Eve Higgins set to be crucial on a high-stakes weekend.
Ireland Women open their France Sevens campaign against the host nation on Friday morning (10.28am Irish time), before going head-to-head with Australia under the lights in Toulouse (7.05pm Irish time). They conclude their Pool games against Brazil on Saturday morning (9.43am Irish time).
After two near misses, Ireland Women have worked incredibly hard in recent years to put themselves in this position heading into the final leg of the 2023 Series, but Murphy Crowe says the squad need to remain focused on the task ahead this week.
“It’s important we didn’t get side tracked by what’s at stake,” the winger said ahead of the squad’s departure for Toulouse on Sunday. “We all know the target is Olympic qualification but for us the focus must remain on the process this week and ensuring we produce our best performance of the season.
“While there is a lot riding on the outcome in Toulouse, we know it is not the be-all and end-all as we still have two more potential routes for Olympic qualification, but the Series offers the first and that’s our big target this week. We are in a good place and have put in some good work over the last couple of weeks to go out and fight for every inch.”
Should Ireland fail to secure automatic qualification this weekend, it's not the end of their Olympic dream. They will get another shot at qualification through the European Olympic Qualification tournament this summer. If they are unsuccesful there, there is the Final Olympic Repechage Tournament where they will get the last chance.
It's a crucial weekend for the Ireland Women's Sevens as they chase a first ever Olympic qualification in Toulouse! 🇫🇷
A 13-player squad has been named for the concluding leg of the 2023 @WorldRugby7s Series ⬇️#Ireland7s | @TritonLake
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) May 8, 2023
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC France Sevens, Stade Ernest Wallon, Friday, May 12 – Sunday, May 14, 2023):
Kathy Baker (Blackrock College RFC)
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Katie Heffernan (Railway Union RFC)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Emily Lane (Blackrock College RFC)
Kate Farrell McCabe (Suttonians RFC)
Anna McGann (Railway Union RFC)
Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC)
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Schedule –HSBC France Sevens:
Friday, May 12 –
Ireland Women v France – 11.28am local time/10.28am Irish time
Ireland Women v Australia – 8.05pm local time/7.05pm Irish time
Saturday, May 13 –
Ireland Women v Brazil – 10.43am local time/9.43am Irish time.