Ireland out to make amends for last year’s qualifying heartbreak

By Machuki Sundaa

Ireland have high hopes of securing a spot in next season’s HSBC World Sevens Series, with nine of their 13-man squad having suffered heartbreak in the same tournament one year ago.

Anthony Eddy’s side come with great expectations, having learned the hard way through a loss to Japan in last year’s Hong Kong Sevens qualifying semi-final. Japan won the tournament to earn a place in the main circuit.

Captain Billy Dardis, Ian Fitzpatrick, Hugo Keenan, Terry Kennedy, Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche and Foster Horan were part of last year’s squad with Eddy adding Jordan Conroy, Adam Leavy, Mick McGrath and Greg O’Shea to this year’s side.

Eddy, the Ireland union’s director of sevens rugby, said playing tournaments in London and Paris last year as well as winning Rugby Europe have boosted the side’s confidence for their Hong Kong assignment.

“There have been many learnings since last year’s Hong Kong Experience, with some very positive moment for the team,” Eddy was quoted as saying in the Irish Times. “The players have been exposed to a high level of competition and have tasted success during the year.

“Competing at the world series events in London and Paris, winning Rugby Europe and doing well at the Rugby World Cup, while also claiming the Dubai Invitational title has helped the players grow in confidence, as well as developing their skills by playing against the top sides in the world.

“The Hong Kong qualifier is a tough, winner takes all competition and having experienced last year’s tournament everyone involved is focused on the performance that is required for six games and claiming a position on next season’s World Series.”

In Pool F, Ireland will face off against Jamaica and Uruguay in their opening matches on 5th April and Russia on 6th April.

Main photo credit: Ireland Rugby

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