It’s very difficult to hide bias on this topic as it’s seems a no brainer and as a business and sport package, its electric. The I.R.F.U has responded to the questions posed by the media recently yet it doesn’t stop the rugby nation from asking and trying to find the solutions to developing an Irish International Seven’s side.
As most Irish eyes were on the 6 Nations campaign and Ireland evolving post World Cup, the other 5 nations involved were also casting an eye to Wellington, New Zealand where round four of the HSBC World Sevens Series took place.
To be fair to the I.R.F.U they have come out with the reasoning behind the lack of an International seven’s squad which will be broken down in a future article. They have shown their commitment in the long term by developing the All-Ireland Club Sevens tournaments that begun in 2011, which is the best strategic way to develop the game into the future from grassroots upwards. However in an unofficial way sevens has been in the country for quiet some time and a fast track system can be achievable if the system is put in place, another layer to the topic that will be discussed at a later date.
At all levels of the game both on and off the field sevens rugby brings the core value of sport to the forefront that the IRB should be credited for. The current HSBC World Seven’s Series provides a package that can be built in any nation without losing the values it brings. The IRB have utilise sevens rugby in nations where rugby participation is low or nations where professional rugby did not exist. Amateur players in nations such as The USA, Kenya and Russia have been given an opportunity to play and develop the professional game developing elite players in theory will developing the game at full rugby union level.
For any nation currently involved in the sevens series the benefit has many layers for example; developing the next pool of players to play at sevens elite or even full test level for their country, provide players another opportunity to represent their country, enhance the rugby message in their nation, provide Ex-Pats an opportunity to see their nation perform in all corners of the globe and showcasing the cultural aspects of their nation to attract tourism as a piggy back to host the sevens series.
This has further been enhanced by the Olympic movement and their understanding of the positive message sevens rugby spreads globally taking it into the 2016 Olympic Games.
Ireland have been represented at International sevens level in the past at Sevens World Cups however a lethargic approach has been taken and teams were pulled together briefly and sent to compete. This is not a poor reflection on the players as they all embraced the game performed to the best level possible but it’s not acceptable to take this approach at the International level.
If for example we look at the top tier nations, all nations have teams participating in the World Sevens Series. Understanding that some nations have a larger pool of players to select from, smaller rugby participating nations similar to Ireland like Scotland, Italy & Argentina compete in the World Sevens Series and success rate is increasing as they progress.
We have to consider that sevens rugby is developing the game and creating an interest to play rugby. If the professional goals of Irish Rugby is sporting success, sevens rugby needs to be consider as another platform increase chance of this success.
Whilst this is only scratching the surface in term of sevens as a serious option, there is no doubt it will progress in Irish Rugby, it’s still important to tackle the topic now as the 2016 Olympics is four years away and time is needed if we want to compete seriously and not take the past approach of picking boarder line Irish squad players and sending them to battle with no ammunition.