Team Ireland have announced their first-ever men’s Olympic rugby sevens squad for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.
13 players will travel to Tokyo after the side qualified for the Olympics when they won the Olympic repechage on June 20th.
Captain Billy Dardis will lead his side out under the tutelage of IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy.
“Having the honour of being selected to captain Ireland at the Olympics is special and I don’t think I’ll come to realise the enormity of it for some time to come,” Dardis said.
“Going to Tokyo, we as a squad are representing so much more than ourselves and our families, but Irish Sport and Irish Rugby on the biggest sporting stage.
“To lead this group out at the Olympics will be an extremely proud moment.”
The team will compete in Pool C, facing South Africa, USA and Kenya with a top-two finish in the pool guaranteeing the side a spot in the quarter-finals.
If they finish as one of the two best third-placed teams, they will also qualify.
Once-capped Ireland U20s back and 2019 Love Island winner Greg O’Shea is also one of the 13 headed to Tokyo as part of Team Ireland.
Greg previously competed in Youth Olympics as a sprinter and relishes the opportunity to represent his country at an Olympic level once more.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle of sport, so to represent Ireland at the Games is a huge honour and it means even more to be there playing alongside my mates,” said O’Shea.
“All the hard work and sacrifice has been worth it and now I just cannot wait to get out there and play.”
Anthony Eddy has been head of the IRFU Sevens programme since its inception in 2015.
The New Zealander will be in charge of the programme and the side for its very first Olympic venture.
“We are delighted to be representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics,” Eddy noted.
“The squad has worked extremely hard for this opportunity, and they will be determined to perform well and represent their country with distinction.
“Very few rugby players get the opportunity to play rugby for their country at the biggest sporting event in the world and this squad of players should be very proud of their achievement and they will be the first of many more to come.”
Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Tricia Heberle is excited to see the Sevens side in action in Tokyo.
She said that their path to qualification in Monaco was exhilarating, a path that took them past 2016 Olympians France.
Heberle added: “We are really looking forward to seeing what they can do now in Tokyo.”
Click here to see the athletes Team Ireland are taking to Tokyo.
TEAM IRELAND RUGBY SEVENS TEAM: