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'It gives Irish 7s a real boost' - Victorious Ireland react to historic rugby success

After last year’s late heartbreak, Ireland’s victory at today’s Hong Kong 7s qualifier secured promotion to the sport’s elite.

The Irish players celebrate their promotion.
The Irish players celebrate their promotion.
Image: Yu Chun Christopher Wong/INPHO

Updated Apr 7th 2019, 1:00 PM

IRISH HEAD COACH Anthony Eddy has hailed his players after this morning’s tournament win in Hong Kong propelled the men’s sevens team to the elite bracket of the sport. 

A 28-7 win over the hosts in this morning’s Hong Kong Sevens – following the earlier semi-final win over Germany – means that Ireland will compete in the World Rugby Sevens Series in 2020. 

It’s a somewhat belated promotion for Ireland, having endured last-second heartbreak against Japan at the semi-final stage last year. 

“We had a go last year and didn’t quite make it, we just missed out”, said Eddy after the game. 

“We’ve worked really hard over the last 12 months so they thoroughly deserve their victory and a spot on the World Series. It gives Irish Sevens a real boost. It’s already shown what a pathway it can bring for players to progress to 15s, and to provincial teams.

“This gives other players an opportunity to be on the world stage continually, and another pathway to wear a green jersey and represent your country.”

The only blemish on Ireland’s record from this week’s competition was a 26-26 draw with Uruguay in the pool stages, after which Eddy was happy with his side’s response. 

“We just regrouped. We’re a tight group. We probably let ourselves down a little bit in that game.

“We lost a couple of players to injury during the week too, so ten players toughed it out for the last two days.

“They look after each other, they work hard for each other; they are a good bunch of friends and again, played well yesterday and played really well today.” 

Irish captain Billy Dardis, meanwhile, pointed to what Ireland have learned from last year’s disappointment. 

“We might have underestimated it. I don’t mean the teams, I meant the whole three-day tournament and how competitive [it is]. 

“One thing Anthony said before the tournament was that every team is going to be desperate, so it’s class. It’s unreal, and I’m speechless.

“Being able to smile during a game is unreal. We all spoke about it months ago, we all dream about it, so now that it’s actually happened, it’s unreal.” 

Ireland will participate in Sevens tournaments in England and France later this year, ahead of a shot at Olympic qualification later this year.

“We’ll definitely target London and Paris”, said Eddy, “they are two great tournaments close to home which makes it better.

“Also we have Olympic qualification for Rugby Europe after those tournaments, so we will use those for good preparation for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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