Ireland 7s Women’s team are one of twelve sides taking part in the European Olympic Qualifiers this weekend in Kazan, Russia.
The twelve teams come from the pre qualifying tournaments organized by Rugby Europe as follows:
- 7 countries from the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grands Prix in Marcoussis: France, Russia, Spain, Ireland, England*, Poland, Italy
- 4 countries from the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Trophies Series (Budapest and Lisbon): Germany, Romania, Czechia and Sweden
- The winner of the Rugby Europe Sevens Conference (Zagreb): Moldova
The teams are divided into 3 pools according to their respective ranking following the pre qualifying tournaments.
|POOL A||POOL B||POOL C|
How does it work?
It’s pool play on Day 1 with the top two sides in each pool and the two best 3rd placed sides going into the Cup quarter finals on Day 2.
The winner of the Cup competition will quality for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The teams finishing 2nd and 3rd will participate in the World Repechage tournament organized by World Rugby in June 2020.
Who are the main contenders?
The five team who have been competing in the World Rugby Women’s’ Sevens Series are the main contenders, namely France, England*, Russia, Ireland and Spain.
On current form, France and Russia appear to be favourites for top spot with Ireland, Spain and England* battling it out for the 3rd place.
How have Ireland performed against these sides?
Ireland have played the other top sides four times each this season. The result and win ratio for Ireland against France, England*, Russia and Spain are shown below.
|Opposition||Ireland Results||Ireland Win Ratio|
Ireland’s overall win ratio against these four sides is 41%
* England are representing Team GB for this Olympic Qualifier.
Who are Ireland likely to face?
Ireland will of course face Spain in thier pool match on Day 1.
The results of that pool meeting are quite important as it will decide who wins the pool and, on paper, have an easier path to the final.
If Ireland win their pool they will likely face Poland in the quarter finals and Russia in the semi finals. Poland play at a much lower level and should be comfortably dealt with before facing Russia. Ireland have a 88% win record against the Russians over their last four games.
However while Russia haven’t beaten Ireland this season they did finish above them in the World Series, they were beaten finalists in the first round of Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago and, of course, they are at home.
If Ireland finish second in their Pool they have a much harder route where they are likely to face England* in the quarter final and France in the semi final.
Ireland only have a 25% win ratio against England*. That win was a couple of weeks ago, in the Grand Prix, and England* seem to be in a bit of disarray at present, so it should be winnable. If Ireland lose in the quarter final that’s it for Ireland’s Olympic qualification hopes. If they win, it’s a likely semi final against France who they have not beaten this season.
Will Ireland Qualify?
I can’t see Ireland winning the competition. France would be my clear favourites and Russia, by virtue of playing at home, would be my second choice, and I think it will be a France v Russia final.
However, I do believe that Ireland have every chance of picking up third place and that would see them progress to the World Repechage tournament organized by World Rugby in June 2020 where they would be one of the favourites to pick up one of the two qualifying places on offer.
My likely scenario is that they will face Spain, again, in the third place play off, the only likely bump on that route, for either of these two sides, being a possible quarter final against some sort of England*.
I would guess both teams are targeting that third place play off, or at the very least it is an option that has featured heavily in their preparations, and whichever side manages their resources more effectively, over the previous five games, will win.
I would say Ireland, but Spain, and their star player, Patricia Garcia, are so bloody crafty in these situations they might just edge it. However, Ireland still have one joker to play.
Player to watch?
The Ireland squad is shown below.
Ireland will rely heavily on the their captain Lucy Mulhall, the experienced Stacy Flood and the try scoring machine Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe and if this trio are on form then Ireland are on form.
We’ll also give a shout out to our own Brittany Hogan here as well with the Ulster youngster putting in a couple of impressive displays of late with her straight, abrasive, running keeping the defences busy.
However, there is one player, in my book, who can add that something extra.
After an exciting introduction to the World Series Sevens in 2018 the multi talented Eve Higgins has had a rather quiet season in 2019 as opposing teams have gotten to know her.
However, she still has the ability to light up a game and if she can hit her straps in this tournament she could be Ireland’s joker in the pack.
Good luck to all the players. #COYGIG
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