Megan Burns is confident that Ireland will be a new and improved force under the guidance of Aiden McNulty in the upcoming World Rugby Sevens Series.
The women’s World Rugby Sevens Series kicks off this weekend in Dubai, in what will be the first official leg of the tournament since February 2020, with the entirety of last season being cancelled due to the pandemic.
Ireland have a new head coach in McNulty for the upcoming season, who had acted as an interim head coach for the team in recent times in preparation for tournaments, and Burns believes he has already had a significant effect on the playing group.
Burns was speaking at the launch of TritonLake’s new podcast series TritonLake Perform and praised McNulty for providing the team with a new insight, while touching on issues the team have suffered from in the past.
“I think we weren’t playing well as a team. We also weren’t focusing on our own individual strengths and knowing what we can bring to the team,” Burns explained.
“Bringing Aiden in just gave us a new insight into how if we perform well as a team and then we can also bring out our own individual strengths. When we see those coming out we can get the tries or we can get the wins.
“It’s about really gelling well as a team, which we’ve done well in our pre-season when we came back from being apart.
“Now it’s just about believing that we are capable and I think we’ve proven it to ourselves in those tournaments, obviously in Ireland, and also we’ve had two other preparation tournaments. Yes, we’ve proven it to ourselves but we now need to prove it on the world stage.”
Juggling college with playing rugby sevens all over the globe.
Burns is currently in her final year of studying physiotherapy in UCD, but will spend much of the year outside of Ireland as she travels the globe with the sevens team.
The Ireland squad are currently in Dubai at the moment, and will remain there until after the second leg of the World Series finishes up on the 4th of December, with trips to Spain, Hong Kong, Canada and France yet to come.
It hasn’t always been easy for the Tullamore native to juggle college life with her career in international rugby sevens, although she has no regrets over taking both challenges on.
“Obviously it’s great to be back after 18 months off from getting back on to the World Series. So I’m in college at the minute. I’m in final year in physiotherapy in UCD,” Burns explained.
“So I wouldn’t say it’s been a struggle but it’s tough and it’s a lot of commitment to juggle both. But I think as long as you have your focus on both your rugby and your college, it’s great to have both there. College can be an outlet to rugby and vice versa.”
📋 The Ireland Women’s squad for the opening leg of the @WorldRugby7s Series 2022 in Dubai has been named!
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 24, 2021
Crossover between the 15s and sevens team and the Olympic dream.
Plenty of Ireland internationals represent both the 15s and sevens teams, as the likes of Stacey Flood, Eve Higgins, Beibheann Parsons and Amee Leigh Murphy-Crowe will all play in Dubai, having played for the 15s team earlier this month.
Burns believes the crossover between the two squads can be of great benefit from a sevens perspective, as they bring knowledge and expertise from the 15s game onto the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The 21-year-old has played plenty of 15s rugby for both Tullamore and Blackrock, although she has no current plans to represent her country in the 15-a-side game.
“For me, my main focus at the minute is the 7s with the World Series coming up and the World Cup. My main focus now, being tournament week, is preparing for Dubai this week and also next week,” Burns said.
“To be honest, I haven’t really looked that far ahead, my main focus is just sevens at the minute.”
While a career in international 15s rugby isn’t on her mind, playing at the next Olympic Games in Paris is something Burns has thought about.
“No matter how far ahead it is, I think you always need to set those goals and those ambitions. Yeah, I do obviously think of it and dream of it and it will come some day but for now we’re focusing on the next thing,” Burns admitted.
“It will come someday but right now we’re focusing on the next thing.”
TritonLake, title sponsors of the Ireland Men’s and Women’s 7s teams since 2021, have launched a new podcast called TritonLake Perform, exploring the intersection of sport and business. TritonLake look forward to an exciting World Rugby Sevens Series season for both teams.