RUGBY: Women’s sevens reach Paris

by Aaron Dunne
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 In another historic moment for Irish Rugby, the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad, sponsored by TritonLake, have today realised their Olympic dream by securing the fourth and final automatic qualification berth through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The team captained by Lucy Mulhall defeated Fiji 10-5 at the France Sevens in Toulouse on Sunday morning to ensure they will finish in fifth position in the overall 2023 Women’s World Series standings, and join Australia, New Zealand, USA and hosts France as the fifth team to book their place at next summer’s Games in Paris.

By creating history on a magical morning at Stade Ernest Wallon, Ireland Women registered another major moment for the National Sevens Programme, following on from the Ireland Men’s qualification for Tokyo 2020, and the succession of World Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens podium finishes.

It is the culmination of years of hard work, the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad first embarking on their quest for Olympic qualification back in 2015, and now following near misses for Rio and Tokyo, secure their golden ticket to sport’s global showpiece next summer.

The Olympic Rugby Sevens competition runs from 24-30 July 2024 at the Stade de France in Paris.

IRFU Chief Executive Kevin Potts said; “On behalf of the IRFU and the wider Irish rugby community, I would like to offer my congratulations to the players, led by inspirational Captain, Lucy Mulhall, and management of the Ireland Women’s Sevens team on their qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“A huge amount of hard work has gone on behind the scenes for the last number of years to reach this historic milestone and it is testament to the dedication, talent and resilience of the players that they have qualified for the Olympics.

“Olympic Qualification was a stated aim for the IRFU in this cycle and I would like to pay tribute to all in our High-Performance Department, and everyone connected with the team for this seismic day, not just for rugby, but for Irish sport in general.”

There was no shortage of drama on the final weekend of the 2023 Women’s World Series as the race for Olympic qualification went down to the wire. Ireland, Fiji and Great Britain were all in the running to claim that final berth, but with all three teams falling at the quarter-final stage on Saturday and GB dropping out of the race, it meant Ireland and Fiji went head-to-head in a Paris 2024 shoot-out on Sunday morning.

Not only do Ireland Women qualify for the Olympics for the first time but they become the first Irish Rugby team to do so automatically through the World Series, with Temple Jones’ side producing strong performances in Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton and Sydney earlier in the season to put themselves in a good position heading into the final weekend in Toulouse.

Pool wins over the hosts and Brazil ensured a passage through to the quarter-finals in the south of France and although Australia proved too strong in the last eight, Ireland rallied and produced when it mattered most to achieve their ultimate ambition and a place at Paris 2024.

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