The first Men’s leg of this season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series takes place in Hong Kong this weekend, just eight short weeks since Ireland won a memorable bronze at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town in September.
Facing Kenya first up on Friday, James Topping‘s side have the honour of kicking off the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens as the qualification race for the Paris Olympics begins in earnest.
Ireland, sponsored by TritonLake, have been drawn in Pool D with Argentina, the fourth place finishers from last season’s Series, the strong-running Kenyans and Canada.
This will be the first edition of the world-renowned Hong Kong Sevens since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be the Ireland Men’s first time to play at the iconic Hong Kong Stadium since they achieved core status on the World Series by winning the 2019 Qualifier final against the host nation.
Head Coach Topping has named a strong 13-player squad for the 2022/23 Series opener, with six Olympians included: captain Billy Dardis, Jordan Conroy, Jack Kelly, Hugo Lennox, Harry McNulty and Mark Roche.
Ed Kelly, Tom Roche and Zac Ward all make a welcome return from injury to join the travelling party, while Ireland U20 international Dylan O’Grady is included for the first time having impressed during pre-season.
Having finished fifth in the Series standings last year, followed up by a historic bronze at Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town, there is no resting on their laurels for Topping’s side. A top-four finish in the 2023 Series would automatically secure qualification for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Ireland open their Hong Kong Sevens campaign against Kenya on Friday at 3.40pm local time/7.40am Irish time, before further Pool D clashes on Saturday against Canada (11am local time/3am Irish time) and Argentina (3.10pm local time/7.10am Irish time).
The Women’s Series kicks off in Dubai from 2-3 December. You can watch all the World Series action live on the World Rugby website, with updates and news on IrishRugby.ie.
Ireland Men’s Sevens Squad:
Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC) (capt)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Aaron O’Sullivan (UCD RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)
Hong Kong Sevens Schedule:
Friday, November 4 –
Ireland v Kenya, Hong Kong Stadium, 3.40pm local time/7.40am Irish time
Saturday, November 5 –
Ireland v Canada, Hong Kong Stadium, 11am local time/3am Irish time
Argentina v Ireland, Hong Kong Stadium, 3.10pm local time/7.10am Irish time
Sunday, November 6 –