Sevens Rugby took a massive step into the national consciousness at the weekend with the Ireland Men’s team qualifying to be one of the 15 core nations taking part in the main competition of the HSBC World Sevens Series in 2020.
Having missed out last year with a semi final defeat to Japan, the team led by Anthony Eddy and driven with significant import from within the IRFU by David Nucifora sealed their place with a 28-7 Final match victory against hosts Hong Kong.
Ireland played as a guest team at two events on the Series calender this season, in London and Paris and acqitted themselves well enough to go into this tournament as favourites.
Now that they have qualified to compete on the Main series they can look forward to ten tournaments getting underway in Dubai and South Africa in December of this year, Australia and New Zealand in January and February 2020, Las Vegas and Canada in March, Hong Kong and Singapore in April and London and Paris in May.
The four top teams from the Series this year will qualify for the Olympics tournament but Ireland will still have two potential opportunities to make it to Tokyo 2020.
That currently looks like being the United States, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa,
The European Qualification tournament, from which one winner will be selected takes place in Colomiersin France over the 13th and 14th of July and there is a final Qualifier in June of next year as well, by which time the team will have had a season at the top flight under their belts.
The World Sevens Series is a major cash generator for host cities and with Ireland having stepped up to the highest level now it may be possible at some point in the future to see Dublin bid to become a host city.
Ireland’s approach to Sevens Rugby only got underway when they put together a first national team four years ago. Five of the players involved in Hong Kong had been part of the original group.
The team is backed by sponsorship from Intersport Elverys on the shirt front and also from Blackrock Expert Services.
Here is a look back on the highlights vof the weekend.