The Ireland men’s Sevens squad are heading into a weekend which has long been marked on the calendar.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifying tournament takes place in Hong Kong this weekend and the winners will be awarded a place on next season’s World Rugby Sevens Series.
Ireland’s women’s Sevens side already compete on the World Series circuit and the men will be hoping to join them by winning this weekend’s qualifying tournament.
They came very close last year at the same venue where they lost to eventual winners Japan in the semi-finals.
Since then, the squad have shown that they belong at the highest level after they won the Challenge Cup at the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco while also going toe-to-toe with the world’s best when competing as an invitational side at World Series events in London and Paris.
However, to be a fully-fledged member, they must win the tournament in Hong Kong this weekend.
IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy has named a 13-man squad for this weekend with eight of those, including 24-year-old captain Billy Dardis, featuring at the same event last year.
Ireland have been drawn with Jamaica, Uruguay and Russia in the pool stages. Ireland overcame Jamaica and Uruguay in Hong Kong last year while they have faced off against Russia on a number of occasions in the last 12 months, including a 35-0 win at the Marcoussis Sevens in July last year.
Ireland Men’s Sevens Squad:
Billy Dardis (Terenure College) (capt)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Mick McGrath (Clontarf)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Mark Roche (Blackrock College)
Friday: Ireland v Jamaica, Hong Kong Stadium, 12.38pm local time/5.38am Irish time
Friday: Ireland v Uruguay, Hong Kong Stadium, 3.43pm local time/8.43am Irish time
Saturday: Ireland v Russia, Hong Kong Stadium, 10.08am local time/3.08am Irish time
Sunday: Quarter-finals, Semi-Finals & Final
Where To Watch:
There is live TV coverage from Hong Kong on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action, while World Rugby will be streaming the games tomorrow across their social media channels and here on www.world.rugby/sevens-series.