This weekend kick starts a summer of sevens rugby tournaments across the Irish club scene. Most tournaments aside from the IRFU club sevens are independent tournaments organised by the host clubs, however for clubs or colleges intending to embrace the sevens game should be minimum playing a selection of these summers tournaments if Rio 2016 is on the minds of some players.
With all the debates regarding the development of elite sevens in Ireland it’s clear grassroots are taking the responsibility of giving players an alternative to the fifteen man game whilst also getting the local community back into the club during the summer. Whilst it is relatively new in Irish clubs, May Bank Holiday weekend for the past 24 years, Kinsale Sevens has been host to many of the top international sevens players showcasing a mix of Elite, Amateur and Social grades of the game and providing on and off the field festival entertainment for anyone who takes the Journey to the coast side town in Cork.
The tournament itself is well known throughoutEuropeas one of the biggest events on the sevens calendar and has been the brainchild of Kinsale RFC who never fail on the entertainment and fun for all involved.
On the opposite side the country older than Kinsale Sevens, Carrickfergus RFC in Co Antrim also hosts its 40th Annual Guinness Carrick Sevens Tournament with almost 50 teams playing over the weekend. Both tournaments are equal in terms of the variety of rugby on the weekend and off the field entertainment but it’s a shame that such a niche form of rugby in Ireland both compete on the same weekend. If the IRFU were to have an Elite Sevens Series moving one these tournaments to another weekend would be crucial to having a better offering for players and spectators.
The sevens events continue throughout the summer months with tournaments across the country offering a more condensed tournaments where teams can enjoy playing an intense fun tournament and enjoy the festivities that night win lose or draw.
Last weekend, April 21st saw the first of the one day tournaments in Seapoint RFC, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin which hosted the Seapoint Sevens with a variety of Men’s and Women’s team on the day providing a transition for players coming from the fifteen a side season into the summer or to finish off the season with a fun day out.
This weekend plays host to the official IRFU Club Sevens Interprovincial Tournaments which are restricted to clubs only. Leinster and Ulster legs of the tournament will take place over of April 26th-28th depending on age grade (changes due to H-Cup semi-finals), whilst the Munster and Connacht legs will take place on April 28th.The tournament is broken down into Senior, Junior, Women’s and underage Boys and Girl categories with winning provincial clubs to contest the All Ireland Club Sevens crown on May 12th in Buccaneers RFC in Athlone. For further information visit: www.irishrugby.ie/sevens .
July 4th- 6th, Connemara RFC will host their now annual Sevens Tournament only in its second year looks set to be a very special event not only providing the beauty of rugby but giving teams a chance to absorb the beautiful town of Clifden, Co Galway and it’s surrounding landscape. This tournament is ideal for the hardcore sevens players who really want to challenge a weekend tournament. Teams can enter plus find more information at http://www.connemararfc.ie/teams/seniors/sevens/ .
Mid July, the South East plays host to two one day Sevens tournaments in Gorey RFC and the Dunbrody Sevens in New Ross RFC. Dates have yet been confirmed for both annual tournaments in Wexford but details will be released in the coming weeks.
August Bank Holiday takes the sevens movement to Athlone, where Buccaneers again after hosting the All-Ireland Club Finals in May will host an open tournament for all senior grades to participate on August 4th in Dubarry Park where the emphasis will be on the sevens party and fun for all on the day. Visit www.AR7s.ie for updates and enter forms.
For all whom are slating the IRFU over the lack of Irish Sevens at Elite level lets be real and also proactive at grassroots get your clubs and potential sevens stars involved in the above summer sevens. We need to build an understanding about sevens dynamics and the fun culture of weekend tournaments. Add the Umbrella Leinster Schools Sevens,CrescentCollege(Munster) School Sevens and the University Intervarsity Sevens all held recently you have no excuse if you have an interest in the game of sevens. Go seek and you will find, eventually the IRB Sevens will look more realistic.
Finally at International grade, the management team behind the recently assembled Irish Women’s Seven squad which was selected after an Interprovincial blitz screening day in early April will use the Kinsale Sevens tournament as one of their development tournaments prior to the World Cup qualifiers they must play in order to take part in the 2013 IRB Sevens World Cup in Moscow.
Preparation is crucial if Coach John Skurr’s side will have any chance of World Cup qualification. Whilst the fundamentals are similar to the fifteens game, conditioning elements differ and the coming weeks need to be intense for this squad to finish top. The squad will train and attend several tournaments but two of these must result in Top 2 and Top 5 finishes. The qualifying schedule begins with a tournament inGhent,Belgiumfrom June 8th – 10th and includes strong opposition withScotland,Poland,GeorgiaandBelgiumseen as the main contenders.
The Irish Team will need to have a top two finish in that competition to progress to the final European qualifying tournament. This will take place in Moscow from June 28th – July 1st, with only the top five teams going through to the World Championships the following year in the same venue.
Following the recent good form in the Six Nations campaign plus the fact that for many years the women’s club and college game inIrelandwas a 10 a side game gives the Irish Women’s side a slight advantage in preparing for Sevens. Many of the new current crop will understand how to utilize large space on the field, defend in harder one on one situations and understand the fitness demands necessary for Sevens. I wish them all the best and I would be very confident in how they will develop.
Ireland Women’s Sevens Schedule 2012
May 4th – 6th: Kinsale Sevens 12 players
May 12th – 13th: Camp 21 players
May 18th – 20th: Amsterdam Sevens 12 players
May 26th – 27th: Camp 21 players
June 1st – 3rd: Bournemouth Sevens 12 players
June 8th – 10th: FIRA Qualifying, Ghent, Belgium 12 players
June 23rd: Camp 14 players
June 28th – July 1st: FIRA Qualifying, Moscow 12 players