Ireland Squads Set For Big Weekend Of World Series Action In Hong Kong

The race for Olympic qualification hots up this weekend as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series rolls into Hong Kong for a historic double header event.

For the first time in the Hong Kong Sevens’ 46-year history, the top 12 Women’s nations, including invitational team Hong Kong China, will join the Men’s Series for a thrilling three-day competition in front of an expected crowd of more than 100,000 fans over the weekend.

The Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens squads, sponsored by TritonLake, are bidding to book their tickets for Paris 2024 through this year’s World Series, with the top four teams in the overall standings securing qualification for the Games.

The Ireland Men are currently sitting in eighth place after seven rounds of the 2022/23 campaign, most recently performing strongly at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver earlier this month.

James Topping’s side will hope to bring that momentum into Hong Kong this weekend, from the pool stages which kick off on Friday through to the tournament’s deciding games on Sunday.

There are just 11 points between eighth-place Ireland and Fiji, who currently sit fourth, and with four legs of the Men’s Series left to play – Hong Kong, Singapore, Toulouse and London – there is still a lot to play for in the weeks ahead.

Ireland have been paired with South Africa, Kenya and New Zealand in Pool D for the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, with Topping naming a strong 13-player travelling squad, captained by Harry McNulty.

The Ireland Women, meanwhile, have a first ever Olympic qualification within their sights as they prepare for the final two legs of the Women’s Series.

The Lucy Mulhall-led team are currently sitting in fifth position, but with Olympic hosts France occupying fourth place, Ireland would secure their place at the 2024 Games as things stand.

They head to Hong Kong knowing two more strong performances at the Hong Kong Stadium and in Toulouse in May would put them in a good position to achieve their ultimate ambition.

The girls in green are currently 10 points ahead of Fiji, whom they face in pool action in Hong Kong along with Australia and Brazil.

In a coaching update, the IRFU can confirm that Aiden McNulty has left the position of Ireland Women’s Sevens head coach. Allan Temple-Jones has been appointed to the role ahead of this weekend’s tournament in Hong Kong.

McNulty has taken up the position of Provincial Talent Coach at Munster Rugby.

Temple-Jones was previously Head of Athletic Performance for the Ireland Sevens programme from 2017 to 2021 and returns having spent the last two seasons with the Cell C Sharks in South Africa. He will take charge of his first tournament this weekend.

You can watch both Ireland Sevens teams in action on the World Rugby Sevens Series website and app.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, Friday, March 31-Sunday, April 2, 2023):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)

Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)

Fergus Jemphrey (Ballynahinch RFC)

Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)

Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)

Matt McDonald (IQ Rugby)

Liam McNamara (IQ Rugby)

Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)

Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)

Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)

Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)

Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)

Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, Friday, March 31-Sunday, April 2, 2023):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock College RFC)
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Katie Heffernan (Railway Union RFC)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Vicky Elmes Kinlan (Wicklow RFC)
Emily Lane (Blackrock College RFC)
Kate Farrell McCabe (Suttonians RFC)
Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC)

IRELAND SEVENS Schedule – Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens:

Friday, March 31 –

  • Ireland Women v Fiji, 1.04pm local time/6.04am Irish time
  • Ireland Men v South Africa, 3.04pm local time/8.04am Irish time
  • Ireland Women v Australia, 5.28pm local time/10.28am Irish time

Saturday, April 1 –

  • Ireland Women v Brazil, 9.32am local time/2.32am Irish time
  • Ireland Men v Kenya, 11.28am local time/4.28am Irish time
  • Ireland Men v New Zealand, 3.49pm local time/8.49am Irish time

Sunday, April 2 –

  • Play-Off Matches

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