The Ireland Women Sevens side has been named for this weekend’s Olympic Repechage at the UCD Bowl.
The twelve player squad features one Ulster player, Ashleigh Baxter, and will be captained by Leinster’s Lucy Mulhall (pictured above). Mulhall has certainly led from the front this season, topping the Irish squads tables for games played, tries, and points scored over the five tournaments of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
|Olympic Squad and their 2016 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Record|
|Amee Leigh Crowe||Munster||20||9||45|
Seven’s regulars Louise Galvin and Nicole Cronin return from long term injury and the squad is bolstered by Ireland’s Six Nations captain, Niamh Briggs, who had a run out a couple of weeks ago in the European Grand Prix.
What’s at stake?
There are two deliverables for the Irish squad from the competition this weekend: Qualification for the 2016 Olympic Women’s Sevens Competition and qualification for the 2017 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
Recent results would indicate that qualification for the World Rugby Women’s Sevens series should be achieved but qualification for that last spot at the Olympics will need a bit of luck to go their way.
World Series regulars, Russia and Spain stand in their way for the main prize with Russia the team expected to be making the trip to Rio. However, participation by any Russian team may be up in the air following the drugs scandal in their athletics system with suggestions that sanctions stretch to their other competing teams. So all to play for for Ireland and Spain, though it could get messy with Ireland and Russia likely to meet in the semi final.
What’s the format?
The sixteen competing teams are split into four pools for Day 1. The top two in each group progress to the quarter finals of the cup on Day 2.
|POOL A||POOL B||POOL C||POOL D|
|MADAGASCAR||TUNISIA||TRINIDAD & TOBAGO||COOK ISLANDS|
Ireland, Spain and Russia are far and away the most experienced teams in the competition though the likes of China, Portugal, Hong Kong and Samoa could cause problems
Ireland’s first game on Saturday is against Trinidad & Tobago at 12.34pm, they will then face Portugal at 3.40pm and play China at 6.46pm with each game expected to get progressively more difficult.
Under normal circumstances Ireland would be expected to finish top of their group and face second in Pool B in the quarter finals and Russia in the semi final, but they could possibly throw their last pool game and opt to face Spain in the quarters in an attempt to avoid Russia until the final in the hope that they either beat Russia or the Russians get disqualified at a later date.
A dangerous and unlikely option as Spain could very well win that quarter final and Ireland’s chances of Olympic qualification and World Series Qualification would disappear!
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity so the best option is to get along and support the players. Tickets for the two-day tournament at Belfield are available here – www.ticketmaster.ie/sevens.
However if you can’t make it to Dublin we’ll have live coverage on the site alongside our Super Saturday coverage of the Under 20’s and Ireland’s third Test in South Africa – it’s going to be a busy day!