Enniskillen will be represented in the Sevens World Cup by Claire Boles in the Ireland Women’s Sevens Squad and Robert Baloucoune in the Ireland Men’s Sevens Squad.
The Ireland Men’s 7s squad to compete at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco has been confirmed by IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy.
The tournament features the world’s top 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams and will be played on 20-22 July at AT&T Park in San Francisco’s Bay Area.
The tournament format is a knock-out style draw, meaning teams will have to win every match in order to be crowned World Cup winners.
The opening round is an initial knock-out qualifier featuring the nations ranked ninth to 24th, while the top eight seeds progress automatically to the round of 16.
Ireland were ranked 16th and will face Chile in their opening fixture, with the winners going on to face World Series Champions South Africa in the last 16, while the losers will move into the Bowl Quarter-Finals.
The Men’s 7s Programme has shown great progress over the past number of seasons. They entered the lowest tier of Rugby Europe in 2015, and have made their way up the levels to reach the Grand Prix series last season, where their top 3 finish saw them qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, as well as the World Series Qualification tournament in Hong Kong, which took place in April. Ireland narrowly lost out in the Semi-Finals to eventual winners Japan.
The side were also invited to compete at the final two rounds of the World Sevens Series in London and Paris this season, and they left London with a Bronze medal, a first for an invitational side on the Series and finished in the top 8 in Paris.
All of the players selected in the 13-man squad gained experience on the series this season, and have also helped Ireland to win the opening two rounds of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix in Moscow and Marcoussis, while they picked up the bronze medal this weekend in Exeter.
The squad is Captained by UCD’s Billy Dardis, and he is joined by UCD clubmates Hugo Keenan, Harry McNulty and Jimmy O’Brien.
There are three Lansdowne players in the side, with Ian Fitzpatrick, Foster Horan and John O’Donnell all members of the All-Ireland League winning club.
Buccaneers wing Jordan Conroy, scored 11 tries in 10 appearances across the London and Paris 7s this season, and St. Mary’s College man Terry Kennedy has scored 16 tries over two Rugby Europe Grand Prix events.
Shannon’s Greg O’Shea is named in the side, as is Cork Constitution centre Shane Daly.
Enniskillen’s Robert Baloucoune and Dublin University’s Bryan Mollen complete the squad.
Speaking on the squad announcement, Anthony Eddy said;
“The entire squad have worked extremely hard and demonstrated a huge level of commitment to the programme and selection for this World Cup squad has been extremely competitive.
It has been nine years since there’s been an Irish Men’s team at the Rugby World Cup Sevens, and the players really excited for to the challenge that lies ahead and are keen to demonstrate the progress they have made over the last number of seasons.
It’s a fantastic opportunity and the players are looking forward to representing their country and putting in performances that demonstrate the commitment they have made to the success of the programme.”
Ireland Men’s 7s Squad – Rugby World Cup Sevens – AT&T Park – San Francisco – 20/21/22 July
Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen RFC & Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Shane Daly (Cork Constitution FC/Munster)
Billy Dardis (UCD RFC)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne FC)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne FC)
Hugo Keenan (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Dublin University FC)
Jimmy O’Brien (UCD RFC/Leinster)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne FC)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon RFC)