Humphreys doubts Irish 7’s viability

FORMER Ireland out-half David Humphreys raised concerns regarding Ireland’s capacity to field a competitive team at the 2016 Olympic Games when he launched the Heineken Kinsale Sevens last night.

Humphreys played a considerable amount of the shortened version of the game and his brother, Ian, captained Ireland at the Rugby World Cup sevens in Hong Kong in 2005.

“It would be a massive undertaking in every respect but I believe it would be good for the game in this country should it come about,” said Humphreys.

“I actually think sevens is fantastic for learning the fundamentals of the game. There’s no hiding place. For players to have the opportunity to come to Kinsale for a tournament that has been going for a long time is excellent.

“We have some concerns about the levels our players get to play at week-in, week-out and I think sevens can provide another step in the right direction.

“The Olympics? There are so many challenges facing the professional game at the moment, financial and otherwise, that if you go into something as big as that, you want to be competitive.

“As a top rugby union nation, we’d want to do it properly. Can we do so at the moment? That’s a decision the IRFU has to make and I think it will be hard because of the pressures on the professional game to take out therequired number of players and put them into a dedicated sevens circuit.

“But you talk about the Olympic Games and what they mean, you want to be involved although at the minute I don’t think there are enough players. It’s a very different type of training, it’s a different way to play the game.”

The Kinsale Sevens, one of the most popular rugby tournaments in the country since its inception 22 years ago, will attract 90 teams from nine different countries ranging from senior, junior to veterans.

The countries set to be represented, apart from Ireland, are England, Scotland, Wales, France, Denmark, Latvia, Holland and New Zealand.

Over the years, some of the biggest names in rugby have enjoyed the special atmosphere of Kinsale including Stuart Barnes, former England and Lions out-half and now commentator with Sky Sports; 1995 South African World Cup winning captain Francois Pienaar; Jonathan Davies of Wales, Lions and now noted for his work with the BBC; New Zealander Todd Blackadder; England prop Gareth Chilcott and several prominent Irishmen including Mick Galwey, Stephen Ferris, Lifeimi Mafi and Peter Stringer.

“We have been privileged to be part of the event since it began in 1989 while the commitment and open-minded thinking of Kinsale RFC members over the two decades hassustained its success and popularity and delivered much valued economic benefits to the town and district each year,” said Pat Maher, Event and Sponsorship manager with Heineken.

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