By Simon Collings
Brian O'Driscoll believes victory for the Ireland Sevens team this weekend could transform the production line of Irish rugby talent.
Ireland are competing in the qualifying tournament in Hong Kong, which starts tomorrow, and have been drawn in Pool G alongside the Cook Islands, Jamaica and Uruguay.
Should they go all the way, Ireland would secure a spot in next season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, which would see them compete against the likes of Fiji and New Zealand.
All that would come just three years after the IRFU reinstated its sevens programme and O’Driscoll is convinced promotion to the main circuit could be a game changer for unearthing new talent in Irish rugby.
“It is an opportunity to grow the game another way,” said O’Driscoll, who was speaking at the launch of HSBC’s new Rugby Sevens film ‘The Mind’.
“The beauty of sevens is that it attracts athletes and not just rugby players. Athletes that are not going to quite make the grade in whatever their field might be, this is a good transition to get into the game.
“You’ve seen it with America and Perry Baker, these guys are track and field but have honed their skills to turn themselves into world-class sevens players.
“It also gives players an opportunity that might not get game time with the provincial setup or are probably playing a bit of club rugby, rather than competitive international rugby.
“If you can survive 14 minutes of sevens then you can definitely survive any length of time of an 80-minute Test match at XVs.
“If you definitely have aspirations to go on and play professionally, or play for a long period, sevens is terrific for young players to get that chance.
“Rather than losing those players that get lost in that hole between school to academy to playing senior rugby, it is a great opportunity for them to get badly needed experience and then be able to bring that energy back into their setups afterwards.”
Go inside the minds of the toughest athletes on earth. #HSBC7sApril 5, 2018
The current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has stops all around the world in a number of locations, ranging from Las Vegas to London.
Events such as the Dubai and Hong Kong Sevens have become incredibly popular with fans of all forms of rugby and O’Driscoll is hopeful that one day Dublin could become a host too.
“It would be epic. You have to think that is something the IRFU have contemplated in the past,” O’Driscoll added.
“Obviously ultimately you don’t want to put the cart before the horse, ideally Ireland work their way into the circuit. But I do see in time that being a potential location to add to the ever-growing series.”
HSBC’s new film ‘The Mind’ highlights the incredible mental attributes of Rugby Sevens players. You can view the film here: https://youtu.be/Tnr-t7JKQ9A