Ireland have secured a place as a core team on
the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 after beating hosts Hong
Kong in the final of the menís annual world series qualifier on
After three days of pulsating action, Anthony Eddy's side proved to be worthy winners following six straight victories and
finished up with a comfortable 28-7 win in the
competition-decider, which made up for their heartache of 12
months ago when they lost in the semi-final.
in front of a packed, 40,000 strong crowd at the Hong Kong Stadium
means Ireland will become one of the 15 core teams contesting the
10-round world series.
In the final Ireland struck first through Harry McNulty
and captain Billy Dardis added the conversion. It gave them a
spring in their step and an excellent angled run from O'Shea
delivered their second just before half-time. A second successful
conversion put them 14 points up before they extended that out to
Hong Kong responded when Ireland went down to six men
following a yellow card but Terry Kennedy's converted try created
a 28-7 advantage. As the time went into the red, the home side
continued to battle but Ireland's gutsy defence held firm and the
players cried tears of joy as the full-time whistle sounded.
"We're just delighted with this," said captain Dardis after
the full-time whistle. "It's been a long and hard road. I think
that we all just stood on the pitch there and couldn't move. We're
just speechless. It's class! It won't sink in for a couple of
This time last year, Ireland were knocked out at the
semi-final stage by eventual winners Japan but went on to have a
The side played as the invitational
team at the London and Paris rounds in the 2018 world series and
took home a bronze medal from London. They won 23 of their 24
matches across the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series and at
this all-important qualifying competition showed their strength
Ireland were housed in Pool F alongside
Jamaica, Uruguay and Russia. The first day saw them
comprehensively beat the Reggae Crocs 26-0 before starting
strongly against Los Teros Sevens.
A 26-7 lead over Uruguay
was clawed back though and had Tomas Ubilla not missed the final
conversion attempt, a loss would have been recorded. Ireland used
the overnight break to refocus and returned to record back-to-back
wins over Russia on day two.
The first 33-7 victory
completed their pool campaign before a statement quarter-final
result followed. A 47-0 victory in the last-eight included braces
from Jordon Conroy, OíShea and Kennedy and created a last-four
meeting with Germany.
The semi-final was a clash of the
titans as both sides gave it absolutely everything. Although
Anthony Eddy's outfit led 5-0 at the break they went 10-5 down in
the second half.
Despite the high stakes, Ireland kept
their composure and worked a team try with just over a minute to
go. Captain Dardis was the try-scorer and his monster conversion
pushed them 12-10 in front. The cherry on top arrived after they
secured the final kick-off and Conroy carried two German defenders
over the line with him. Dardis again converted for a 19-10 victory.
Having earned their place on the HSBC World Rugby
Sevens Series 2020, Ireland can now look forward to playing at the
top level of rugby sevens ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Ireland will aim for Olympic qualification when the European
regional qualification tournament takes place in Colomiers, France
on 13-14 July 2019.
World Rugby recently announced a
new-look menís and womenís HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series which
includes at least six combined events, as the womenís series
increases to eight rounds for the first time in its history over
the next four-year cycle. Dubai, Cape Town, New Zealand, Sydney,
Hong Kong and Paris will host combined menís and womenís sevens
events from next season onwards as part of the next four-year
world series hosting cycle.
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