Long Road

'Baptism of fire' long behind him as Leavy relishes tough tasks on Sevens circuit

Ireland men are in Cape Town after a difficult debut run on the World Series.

WITH ONE WIN and a 12th-place finish last weekend, Ireland Men’s Sevens squad didn’t exactly experience the dream start to the tournament they spent four years working their way into.

Still, after their rapid rise through the ranks while leaving nations like Montenegro, Russia and Germany in their wake, there is something almost refreshing about watching this side play with the difficulty setting flicked from novice to elite as they take on powerhouses like Australia and the USA.

Now, much like their colleagues in 15-a-side, Ireland’s men are facing into the second portion of a back-to-back. Hot on the heels of their chastening World Series debut in Dubai, Ireland men have joined the sport’s leading lights making the long trip south to Cape Town for another point on what promises to be a steep learning curve.

Each point is a foothold for Anthony Eddy’s side on their way to the overriding goal this season: Olympic Qualification.

611a312f-cd04-49a7-88fc-29390ca48a02 Leavy in training in Cape Town this week. IRFU IRFU

While Jordan Conroy scorched his way into the highlights with a sensational seven tries for his side, there were positives to pick out across the squad for Ireland. Among them, Adam Leavy’s distribution and eye for a gap helped to pave the way for bouts of Irish pressure. The former Connacht academy man, speaking to The42 before setting out for Dubai, is intent on banking plenty more experience through the World Series before the defining moment of the Olympic qualifier comes around in June

“We tried to solidify our culture and goals for the year,” explains Leavy, the younger brother of Leinster flanker Dan, “our main one, building towards the Olympic qualifier in the summer.

We’ll have 10 legs of the world series behind us, putting us in a really good position. Mainly for the young lads coming in, it’s trying to drive those cultures and get everyone behind it. So we’re all on the same page and working towards the same goal.”

Sevens was not on Leavy’s radar when he emerged out of a sensational St Michael’s side featuring James Ryan, Ross Byrne, Nick McCarthy and Cian Kelleher. While studying in UCD, he was invited to play in a side to compete in the Limerick Club 7s tournament in Thomond Park.

“That was my first taste of Sevens,” Leavy says five years on, “it’s come full circle now.”

Full circle, because it was no Road to Damascus moment on the Cratloe Road. That weekend actually served to bring him a new opportunity in 15s. Nigel Carolan – now Connacht assistant coach, then their academy director – was more than an interested spectator.

“It was a bit of a baptism of fire. There were a few 15s lads thrown together, we had one or two training sessions beforehand. We were blown out of the park in our first two games. It was kind of trial and error. We found what we were good at and found our way towards the end of the tournament.

8c2284e8-2aec-427f-be69-56af3c7c33b2 Leavy in training in Cape Town this week.

“I like to think I made a good impression and Nigel felt the need to give me a call after it and have me down to Connacht. It worked out well in the end.”

Brought to Connacht initially for a sub-academy slot before two years in the academy proper, Leavy thoroughly enjoyed his time in the new environs of Galway. Not only the team dynamic at the Sportsground, but outside the bubble too as he began an Economics degree in NUIG.

The fruition of his hard work on the academic front only came about last month as he celebrated his graduation in Galway. However, the last two years were somewhat complicated by his relocation. Sevens had helped take Leavy to Connacht to play 15-a-side. And now the 15s had given him a platform to revisit Sevens with the national setup in Dublin.

“It was my final year academy and I had an email come in – same as is happening for lads now who have been called in for training sessions.

“I liked it straight away. It was different to the Limerick Club 7s where we were just thrown in. I started to get my head around how it works and the style of play. I feel like it suited me. Following that opportunity, I was pushed towards going full time.

“It worked out well in the end. I’m still here.”

He’s doing more than just hanging in there. Two years on from making his debut in Exeter, Leavy has become one of the key players in Ireland’s squad as they set out on their maiden World Series run.

87d833e2-872c-480f-8600-d4ff470647df Leavy enjoys a recovery dip

With studies ongoing after he commenced a masters in strategic management in the Smurfit Business School, Leavy can often be found nestled away in his room at the books.

He insists he doesn’t mind, all part of preparing himself for a life beyond rugby. But in a tight turnaround week between fixtures on different continents there is serious difficulty in picking and choosing moments to refresh body and mind. Particularly when the glamorous destinations on the Sevens circuit offer the chance to soak up spectacular sights.

Some of Leavy’s team-mates this week witnessed those sights from the vantage point of a helicopter ride. And things will get no less choppy when Leavy and co kick off the weekend’s action tomorrow at 14.37 against Australia before Saturday takes them into clashes with Samoa and Kenya.

Tough tasks, but that’s what this squad have been working for.

Ireland Men’s squad for Cape Town 7s

Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock/Leinster)
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College)(captain)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
Liam Turner (DUFC/Leinster)
Peter Maher (Old Belvedere)

Bernard Jackman joined Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell in studio to chat about the remarkable John Cooney and the Ireland captaincy. 

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud


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