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Dublin: 18 °C Sunday 25 August, 2019
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IRFU ready to embrace men's 7s with 2020 Olympics in target

TheScore.ie has learned that plans are in place to launch a men’s sevens team from 2015 onwards.

Could exciting players like Ian Madigan be involved in an Ireland sevens team at the 2020 Olympics?
Could exciting players like Ian Madigan be involved in an Ireland sevens team at the 2020 Olympics?
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THE IRFU IS ready to embrace men’s rugby sevens again, with qualifying an Ireland team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan the long-term target.

Ireland has been without a senior international men’s sevens squad since 2009, when a side including Munster’s Felix Jones and Ulster scrum-half Paul Marshall finished as runners-up in the bowl competition.

There has been much frustration among the rugby community in Ireland at the lack of IRFU support for men’s sevens in recent years – a women’s team are currently striving to qualify for the 2016 Olympics – but the IRFU are now ready to accept the growing power of the seven-player code.

TheScore.ie has learned that the IRFU plan to enter a team into level 2 of the FIRA European Sevens circuit in the summer of 2015, aiming to move into Tier 1 in 2016, before competing in a qualifier for the IRB Sevens World Series in 2017, all going according to plan.

That would mean an Ireland team on the hugely-exciting IRB Sevens World Series by 2018 at the earliest and would leave the IRFU in a positive position to compete for qualification into the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

TheScore.ie also understands that the IRFU intend to start a domestic sevens series on the ground in Ireland to support the re-launched national side, swelling the numbers and quality of rugby players with strong sevens’ skill sets.

The involvement of the IRFU’s Performance Director, David Nucifora, has been integral in this progress, with the Australian being a firm believer in the value of the sevens code, both as a standalone sport and as a tool to potentially improve 15-a-side players.

Rugby sevens has exploded in popularity in recent years, with the World Series drawing strong attendances and high-profile sponsors also being increasingly attracted to what are often thrilling weekends at venues such as Hong Kong, Glasgow, Wellington and London.

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Murray Kinsella

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