The Ireland Sevens team began its charge towards the goal of qualification for the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens with a positive runner-up spot in the Denmark Sevens competition at the weekend.
The tournament took place in Odense and is the first of three FIRA-AER qualifying rounds for the World Sevens that Ireland will take part in over the coming months. The Ireland squad is being coached by Jon Skurr and managed by Hugh McCaughey and contains players from the provincial teams and exiles with a blend of Magners League and Churchill Cup experience.
The next round of qualification games takes place in Sopot, Poland (May 24-5) and Ireland must gain enough points at this tournament to progress to the final qualifier in Hanover, Germany in July where the top five teams from that competition will qualify for the IRB World Sevens in Dubai.
The Ireland squad began the tournament with victories over Austria (70-0) and Switzerland (49-0) on Saturday and completed the day with a strong display to beat Wales (26-10). On the Sunday, the side registered further wins win over the hosts Denmark (45-0) and Belgium (36-0) in the semi finals.
The final was a rematch with Wales and the sides finished regulation time at 26-26, forcing the game into extra time. The first team to score would win the game though the ‘golden point’ rule and Wales got that vital score through a dropped goal from a penalty to take the match 26-29.
Although the finish was a heartbreaker for the squad, Manager Hugh McCaughey said: “The display over the two days augured well for the next rounds. The squad were excellent and when you consider that many of the Wales players had the experience of playing in the IRB Sevens World Series, I think we have plenty of positives going forward.”
“We had some good individual performances as well with Darren Cave the top try scorer for the tournament with nine. Overall we got better as the tournament went on. The final was a close affair and certainly we were gutted with the manner in which we lost, but the experience will stand to us in Poland”.
Ireland 7’s Squad in Denmark:
James Coughlan (Dolphin/Munster)
Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster)
Brian Tuohy (Cornish Pirates)
Seamus Mallon (Ballymena/Ulster)
Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Ricardo Briggs (Esher)
Kieran Campbell (Dungannon/Ulster)
Andrew Maxwell (Edinburgh)
Cian Aherne (UCD/Leinster)
Ian Keatley (Clontarf/Leinster)