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6 Nations

Ireland Men End World Series With Historic Fifth Place Finish

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Only a core team since 2019, Ireland (sponsored by TritonLake) were 10th in their Covid-19-curtailed debut year and came sixth in the two-legged 2021 series.

Now, on the back of their silver medal heroics in Toulouse and two other top four finishes, they have closed out their first fully-completed World Series in fifth place as the leading northern hemisphere nation.

The HSBC LA Sevens saw James Topping’s side reach their eighth Cup quarter-final of the campaign, but New Zealand got the better of them on a 29-14 scoreline. Returning to the pitch, Ireland then lost their grip on a 21-point lead against fast-finishing Argentina.

The 28-21 play-off defeat to the Pumas left the men in green with another top eight finish, their 10 rankings points taking their haul for the season to 92, ahead of the USA (87) and France (81), and behind fourth-place Argentina (118).

“Fifth for us is a massive thing because it’s only our first year on a whole World Series,” said coach Topping. “Our goal was always to retain our status as such, but the guys have had really, really good performances.

“There’s a lot of competition (within the squad). We had quite a settled team for a few years, maybe 12, 13 or 14 guys to pick from. This year I think we’ve got 22 guys who have played on the World Series.

“There’s guys who have come into the programme and after a month, they have been sent out there to show what they can do. So it’s a really good position to be in to have experienced guys there, we can bring in three, four guys and see how they go.

“And then that also puts pressure on the older guys, as such, to perform. We’ve got a nice blend at the minute. I’ve full confidence in all the players that go on the pitch, but it’s given us that sort of team that can play for a full 14 minutes.”

Captain Billy Dardis and that experienced core group keep a steady hand on the tiller, with the likes of Terry Kennedy continuing to reach new heights as his 50-try tally saw him crowned the World Series top try scorer for 2021/22.

Eight players have made their World Series debuts for Ireland in the last nine months, acquitting themselves very well. Youngsters Andrew Smith and Chay Mullins have already played 61 matches between them, scoring 13 tries.

An experienced New Zealand outfit put together a formidable first half display, breaking into a 24-0 half-time lead thanks to a run of tries from Joe Webber, Caleb Tangitau, Amanaki Nicole and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black.

They got the bounce of the ball from the kick-off, allowing Webber to quickly get them on the board despite picking up a hamstring injury in the process. Akuila Rokolisoa converted for a 7-0 lead.

A flat pass put Tangitau over in the left corner as Ireland struggled for both possession and territory, and New Zealand pushed 17 points clear when, following a lineout, they went back to the short side for Nicole to score.

Some refereeing decisions were going against Topping’s charges, Mark Roche left frustrated by an incorrect call for a knock-on, and the All Blacks outfit used the scrum possession to send McGarvey-Black in under the posts.

Ireland were much-improved when the second half got underway, Jordan Conroy increasing his threat and Roche cut in past two players to link with Kennedy who darted through a gap to pull seven points back.

However, the game was scoreless during Regan Ware’s sin-bin period, with Harry McNulty tackled short of the line and Ireland were unable to get back into contention.

Nicole shrugged off a tackle at the other end to send Lewis Ormond over in the left corner, while there was some late consolation when Kennedy and McNulty combined, the latter’s accurate long pass allowing Ed Kelly to raid over from out wide.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC LA Sevens, Dignity Health Sports Park, August 27-28, 2022):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC) (capt)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matt McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College RFC)
Chay Mullins (IQ Rugby)
Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock College RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

HSBC WORLD RUGBY SEVENS SERIES – LA SEVENS RESULTS:

Saturday, August 27 –

POOL C:

IRELAND 14 FRANCE 12, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Chay Mullins; Cons: Hugo Lennox, Billy Dardis
France: Tries: Pierre Mignot, Varian Pasquet; Con: Thibaud Mazzoleni
HT: Ireland 7 France 5

Team: Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Aaron O’Sullivan.

Subs used: Andrew Smith, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis (capt), Niall Comerford, Ed Kelly.

IRELAND 46 WALES 12, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Andrew Smith 2, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Aaron O’Sullivan 2, Chay Mullins; Cons: Billy Dardis, Mark Roche 2
Wales: Tries: Luke Treharne, Lloyd Lewis; Con: Luke Treharne
HT: Ireland 17 Wales 12

Team: Harry McNulty, Andrew Smith, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Ed Kelly.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Aaron O’Sullivan, Bryan Mollen, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford.

FIJI 21 IRELAND 7, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: Fiji: Tries: Waisea Nacuqu, Kaminieli Rasaku, Iowane Teba; Cons: Waisea Nacuqu 2, Kaminieli Rasaku
Ireland: Try: Harry McNulty; Con: Billy Dardis
HT: Fiji 14 Ireland 0

Team: Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Andrew Smith, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Aaron O’Sullivan, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Billy Dardis (capt), Ed Kelly, Chay Mullins, Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – LA Sevens Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – LA Sevens Pool Tables

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Tee Up La Quarter-Final Clash With New Zealand

Sunday, August 28 –

CUP QUARTER-FINAL:

NEW ZEALAND 29 IRELAND 14, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: New Zealand: Tries: Joe Webber, Caleb Tangitau, Amanaki Nicole, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Lewis Ormond; Cons: Akuila Rokolisoa 2
Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Ed Kelly; Cons: Mark Roche, Billy Dardis
HT: New Zealand 24 Ireland 0

Team: Harry McNulty, Andrew Smith, Chay Mullins, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Billy Dardis (capt), Aaron O’Sullivan, Ed Kelly, Bryan Mollen, Jack Kelly.

5TH PLACE SEMI-FINAL:

ARGENTINA 28 IRELAND 21, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: Argentina: Tries: Rodrigo Isgro 2, Alejo Lavayen, Tomas Lizazu; Cons: Alejo Lavajen 4
Ireland: Tries: Jack Kelly, Ed Kelly, Bryan Mollen; Cons: Billy Dardis 3
HT: Argentina 7 Ireland 21

Team: Bryan Mollen, Jack Kelly, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis (capt), Niall Comerford, Terry Kennedy, Ed Kelly.

Subs used: Andrew Smith, Harry McNulty, Hugo Lennox, Jordan Conroy, Mark Roche.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


6 Nations

Wales team to face Ireland in Dublin named

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Senior men’s head coach Warren Gatland has named the Wales side to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the third round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 24 February (KO 2.15pm live on ITV and S4C).

There is one change to the starting XV that played England at Twickenham on 10 February, with Sam Costelow returning for Wales at fly half.

Among the replacements back-row Mackenzie Martin is in line to win his first senior cap this weekend and would become the 1,200th Wales men’s international.

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Tight-head prop Dillon Lewis would be making his first appearance of this Championship if called on from the bench.

Gatland said: “We are excited to go out to Dublin and test ourselves against one of the leading sides in world rugby. It’s a challenge we are relishing.

“We’ve made steps in the last couple of games and now it’s about building on that, learning from those experiences and taking that into this weekend.

“It’s about continuing to work hard, looking for accuracy in our performance across 80 minutes and also keeping our discipline.”

Wales senior men’s team to play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the Guinness Six Nations, Saturday 24 February KO 2.15pm GMT. Live on ITV and S4C.
15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 56 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 119 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 34 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 16 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 9 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 55 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 27 caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 48 caps)
3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – 4 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 14 caps) Captain / Capten
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 53 caps)
6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 15 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 45 caps)

Replacements

16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 40 caps)
17. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 54 caps)
19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 30 caps)
20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 19 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 4 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)

Images & Content – Wales Rugby


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6 Nations

Jager and Ahern Join Ireland Squad Ahead Of Wales

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The Ireland squad re-assembled in Dublin on Sunday evening ahead of this weekend’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations Round 3 clash against Wales at Aviva Stadium (Kick-off 2.15pm).

Prop Oli Jager has joined the squad and Thomas Ahern has also linked up with Andy Farrell‘s side at the IRFU High Performance Centre this week.

Iain Henderson picked up a foot injury during Ulster’s URC game away to Ospreys on Sunday and there will be a further update later in the week.

The Ireland Match Day Squad to face Wales at Aviva Stadium will be named on Thursday at 2pm.

Ireland Squad – Wales Week: 

Backs (15):

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht)
Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
James Lowe (Leinster)
Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster)

Forwards (21):

Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)*
Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster)
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster)
Oli Jager (Munster)*
Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jeremy Loughman (Garryowen/Munster)
Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster)
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)(captain)
Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
Dan Sheehan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)

*Denotes uncapped player

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

O’Connell Gives Update On Keenan As Ireland Return To Training

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Hugo Keenan is Ireland’s main injury concern ahead of Saturday week’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations clash with Wales. The ever-influential full-back took a blow to his left knee during the win over Italy.

Keenan sustained the injury when falling awkwardly in a 52nd-minute tackle from Italian replacement Giosuè Zilocchi. He was replaced shortly afterwards by Harry Byrne, with Jack Crowley switching to the full-back position.

The 27-year-old Dubliner has become central to Andy Farrell’s plans in a short space of time, with his 15s international debut coming just over three years ago. He has accumulated more match minutes than any other player so far during Farrell’s coaching reign.

He has started 38 of Ireland’s last 42 Test matches, and Jimmy O’Brien and Michael Lowry are the only other players who have worn the number 15 jersey during that time.

Asked about Keenan’s likely availability for the third round of the Six Nations, Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell said: “Hugo didn’t train today, but he hasn’t been ruled out for the Welsh game yet.

“He’s progressing with his rehabilitation, he was there at training today and took part in the organisational bits, but I have no full update. He’s still available for selection for Wales, but I’m not sure what will happen in the next few days.

“He plays a big role, he’s obviously been injury-free for a long time. He’s an excellent player and in full-back, covering the back-field defensively, he has a lot of work to do in attack as well, recreating our attack by moving side to side.

“There’s a lot of IP (intellectual property) there that we might miss out on if he wasn’t playing. He also plays a big leadership role for us, he’s a very smart guy.

“He’s a problem-solver within the group and highly regarded within the group. Whether he’s there or not, he’ll continue to play that role.”

Keenan has had a strong start to the tournament, with his individual highlights including his try-saving tackles on Damian Penaud, including one which drove the French dangerman back a few feet, and an electric break against Italy from Craig Casey’s kick over the top.

He has an 85.7% tackle success rate, including two dominant hits and a turnover tackle. In attack, he has had gain-line success with two-thirds of his carries in the Championship, and has the team’s best tackle evasion rate of 47.1%.

If the Leinster star is ruled out when Ireland resume their campaign next week, the versatile Ciaran Frawley, Jordan Larmour, Jacob Stockdale, Calvin Nash, or indeed Crowley, could be options to fill the full-back berth.

Larmour, who returned to international action last Sunday for the first time since 2021, made nine starts at full-back between 2018 and 2020. Farrell handed him the number 15 shirt for his first game in charge of Ireland four years ago.

Last August against Italy, Frawley made his debut as a half-time replacement for O’Brien at full-back. He has started six times in the position for Leinster this season, with Stockdale, Nash and Crowley also having provincial experience in the back-field.

As O’Brien and Mack Hansen are also injury-enforced absentees, O’Connell admits that it could provide an opportunity to build more depth in that area if Keenan is unable to recover in time.

“It’s good for us in some ways because it makes us play someone else there if he doesn’t make it,” commented the Limerick man, who is in his fourth Men’s Six Nations campaign as part of the Ireland coaching group.

“I’m not sure yet, I don’t pay as much attention to the backs, but I’m not sure yet where  Hugo is at. As I said, he was around training today, so we’d be hopeful.”

Meanwhile, Garry Ringrose is on track to play some part against Wales at the Aviva Stadium having returned to training. He missed the opening two rounds due to a shoulder injury.

“Yeah it looks like it, he trained today,” O’Connell said of Ringrose. “We didn’t do a massive session today but he trained today and was in good shape.

“No one else sat out training, no, so they’re all good to go, I believe.”

That includes captain Peter O’Mahony (calf), Tadhg Furlong (calf), and Bundee Aki (knee), who all sat out the 36-0 bonus point victory over Italy as they recovered from their respective knocks.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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