Rugby: World Cup bid begins this weekend!
UPDATE (9th June 2012): Check the comments for results & match info!
These are the pre-qualifiers for the 2013 World Cup in Moscow, and to proceed to the next stage of qualifiers, Ireland must be in the top two in their group. To do this, the team faces the Czech Republic, Belgium, Poland and Israel. ScrumQueens has a rundown of the nations lining out this weekend, giving an indication of what lies ahead for the side.
The squad has now been named, and features a rake of Munster players, a couple of Connacht players, a smidge of Exiles, as well as one player each from Leinster and Ulster. Connacht gets a bonus, with the naming of Galway’s Claire Molloy as captain – she of Heineken Boot-lifting fame.
Ireland’s Claire Molloy lifts the Heineken Boot trophy
at Amsterdam Sevens 2012
Speed and handling are of the essence in 7s rugby, and the team choices reflect that. Anyone who watched any of this year’s Six Nations fixtures will remember impressive bursts from Alison Miller and Niamh Kavanagh, among others. A couple of this named side picked up their first caps for Ireland earlier this year as part of the Ireland 15s squad in the Six Nations. Sophie Spence and Ashleigh Baxter both made a huge impact with their fast pace, awareness and several tries between them. They and their team mates are accompanied by cool heads of experienced players including Lynne Cantwell, Amy Davis, Jeannette Feighery.
Ireland have done exceptionally well since the announcement and formation of the 7s squad in April, picking up trophies at each tournament, most recently at the Rugby Rocks event in London. This weekend will be the team’s first major competition, however, and will be one of the two most inexperienced sides there.
Speaking ahead of the weekend’s competition, Molloy said:
It is a massive honour firstly to be asked to captain the team. I didn’t expect it at all. There are other girls in the squad with more fifteens experience and caps.
I think I am probably the link between the them and the new girls that have come into the Sevens squad.
We performed well in losing to Spain, who have a dedicated Sevens programme in place and against Canada who are regulars on the circuit. Apart from that we have won all our games including an important one against Scotland.
This weekend is a bit of an unknown for us though as the Czech Republic and Poland are much higher up the rankings and they are not short of experience.
Head coach Jon Skurr said:
I am extremely pleased with the progress of the squad to date.
Whilst we have only had a short time working together, the players have shown massive commitment and a very strong work ethic which has been instrumental in our success thus far.
In Belgium, we will be very much going into the unknown in terms of the teams we are up against but I am confident that we can do the job required and progress to the next level.
Unfortunately, it’s looking unlikely that the matches will be broadcast or streamed live, although confirmation is yet to come through. In the meantime, you can follow what’s happening on Twitter, via the #EC7s and #wrugby hashtags and on a certain someone’s handy women’s rugby list. Prepare those nails for biting!
IRELAND SEVENS SQUAD
Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exiles)
Amy Davis (Blackrock/Leinster)
Jeannette Feighery (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Ashling Hutchings (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht)
Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht) (capt)
Jennifer Murphy (Richmond/Exiles)
Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Laura O’Mahony (Tralee/Munster)
Sophie Spence (Sharks/ Exiles)
Ireland Fixtures (All times are Irish time)
Saturday, 9th June:
10:00 Ireland v Czech Republic
13:00 Belgium v Ireland
15:00 Poland v Ireland
Sunday, 10th June:
10:40 Israel v Ireland