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The IRFU have announced a new set of targets for their Sevens programme after the Irish Men’s side achieved qualification to the Tokyo Olympics.
Anthony Eddy‘s squad are currently finalising their preparations for a maiden Olympics campaign in Tokyo.
As excitement builds for the start of the Rugby 7s competition on Monday 26 July, a huge opportunity awaits for Irish Rugby and the shortened format of the game in Ireland.
The realisation of their Olympic Dream promises to be a watershed moment for Irish Sevens Rugby, elevating the players, sport and programme to a whole new level in front of a global audience.
“The Ireland Men’s Sevens team qualifying for the Olympics is a huge opportunity for us to be able to build a sustainable pathway for Sevens Rugby in Ireland,” IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, says.
“The interest that the Olympics will bring gives us the opportunity to be able to grow the game of Sevens throughout the country.”
The IRFU want to ensure that there is a clear pathway for young children to get into Sevens rugby.
Sevens is an accessible sport for all ages and the value of Sevens programmes and competitions in schools and colleges and Age-Grade Interprovincial Structures cannot be underestimated with Irish Rugby fully aligned and committed to ensuring Tokyo 2020 is truly a watershed moment for the sport in Ireland.
“The opportunity created by the Men’s Sevens being in the Olympics enables us to be able to connect the Domestic Participation part of the game for young boys and girls to be able to see an opportunity to follow their Olympic Dreams,” Nucifora continues.
“Our ambition is to be able to make the game of Sevens a sustainable game within its own right, with the ambition of qualifying our Men’s and Women’s teams for the 2024 and 2028 Games in Paris and LA and our Men’s and Women’s U18s teams for the 2026 Youth Olympics in Dakar.”
For Nucifora, the goal is clear: to build a pathway that connects the Participation and Domestic components of the game with the High Performance Programmes.
This will enable young boys and girls to play the sport in their school and club, granting them access to selection for Provincial teams, National Underage squads and then the National Sevens squads, leading them into Olympic Games opportunities in the future.
“We’re focused on leaving a legacy as a result of the team’s qualification for Tokyo,” he says.
“We want to build a Participation Pathway for the game of Sevens through the schools and clubs to open up the sport to non-traditional areas and players. It is a true pathway for a rugby player and we’re striving to get the development part of it right and truly open up the game for all and make it as accessible as possible. We’ll see the grow game in Ireland off the back of that.
“Tokyo is on our mind right now but looking towards Paris, it is only a three year turnaround and our ambition is to be there with both our Men’s and Women’s teams. We’re hugely excited for what’s ahead and know we can achieve all of these goals and ambitions in the years ahead.”