There has been a bit of controversy surrounding Ireland Women’s participation in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series following the late withdrawal of Alison Miller, Sene Naoupu and Hannah Tyrrell from the Ireland Women’s Squad to compete in the Las Vegas leg of the sevens series. 

With that in mind we thought we’d give you a bit of background on this heavily sponsored competition. 

The World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, known as the HSBC Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series for sponsorship reasons and as a the #WSWS (Women’s Sevens World Series) for hashtag reasons is a series of international rugby union sevens tournaments for women’s national teams run, and heavily promoted, by World Rugby. 

World Rugby look at both the Men’s and Women’s seven series as a means of spreading rugby to countries throughout the world that don’t have a rugby heritage. It provides a nice daily package of high scoring games that appeals to sponsors and broadcasters, though it doesn’t always generate big crowds. 

What’s the format. 

Twelve teams compete in each of the six rounds of the series. There are eleven core teams that compete in every round and the twelfth team is included by invitation, usually depending on the geographical location of that particular round. 

The teams play in three pools of four on day one with their relative standings in their pools determining which knock out games they feature in in day two. The top eight teams play in the cup competition over a further three rounds and the bottom four play in a challenge competition over two rounds. Even if knocked out of the cup or challenge competitions the teams continue to play for positional points. 

The points are totaled over the six rounds, the winner being the team with the most points. The current standings for 2016 -17 are shown below:

NEW ZEALAND 20 16 36
AUSTRALIA 18 14 32
CANADA 10 20 30
FIJI 12 12 24
RUSSIA 16 8 24
USA 2 18 20
FRANCE 8 10 18
ENGLAND 14 3 17
IRELAND 4 6 10
SPAIN 3 2 5
BRAZIL 1 4 5

How have Ireland been doing?

This is the fifth year of the series and it’s the third year that Ireland have been a core team. They also featured as an invitational team in 2012-13. 

They have struggled in the competition, usually featuring in the challenge competition in day two rather than the cup. 

However this looks like being their best year to date. Their win ratio is up to 40% from 28% last season and they have already accumulated 10 competition points compared to 11 for the whole of last season. They also managed to qualify for the Cup competition on day 2 last time out in Sydney. 

Ireland Women’s Director of Rugby has placed his reputation on Ireland improving in this lucrative competition, looking for an 9th place finish overall so that Ireland will qualify for this series next season. They will also be chasing one of the last two European spots for the 2018 World Rugby Sevens World Cup. 

What happens in Vegas?

The  competition starts today and Ireland are in Pool B alongside USA, Fiji and Spain. It’s far and away the easiest Pool in the competition with Ireland avoiding the big hitters of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 

Ireland have beaten USA, Fiji and Spain already this season though the USA did get revenge the last time they met. However Ireland will be looking for at least two wins in the Pool stages so they qualify for the Cup. 

Todays fixtures for Ireland are: 

USA v Ireland @ 16:17 UK/Ire 
Fiji v Ireland @ 19:24 UK/Ire
Ireland v Spain @ 22:09 UK/Ire

The official blurb says: There is no live streaming on World Rugby due to our broadcast partnership with Sky Sports. LIVE coverage from the event and highlights will be shown. Please check the TV broadcast schedule for details of when these programmes are available.

I can’t see anything specific for the women’s games on Sky Sports but we’ll let you know if we find anything. Check our Facebook and Twitter feeds around the times of the matches. 

Ireland Women’s Sevens Squad. Las Vegas 

Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Susan Vaughan (Railway Union/Leinster)
Megan Williams (Ireland Sevens Programme)