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Ireland Sevens win in Monaco to secure last ditch qualification for Olympics

By Kim Ekin
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Ireland have secured victory at the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco this evening, making history by securing qualification for this summer’s Olympic Games for the very first time.

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Anthony Eddy’s side booked their ticket to Tokyo by beating France 28-19 in the Monaco 7s final at Stade Louis II, and will next month become the first Irish Rugby team to compete at the Games.

France, Hong Kong, Ireland and Samoa were all in contention in the men’s repechage going into the final day, but it was the Irish who produced the shock result to take home the tournament and win a place in the Olympics.

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In a thrilling men’s final showcasing the very best of rugby sevens, Ireland’s Terry Kennedy opened the scoring early, but Ireland were required to recover from a 12-7 half-time deficit to secure their place at the Olympic Games for the first time. Jordan Conroy scored a pair of second-half tries, while Harry McNulty added a fourth that put the seal on a 28-19 victory.

“It’s just bizarre,” Ireland captain Billy Dardis said. “You dream of doing something really special, and that’s playing rugby. It’s incredible what we’ve done just over a number of years. It’s absolutely incredible.”

Ireland’s Conroy finished as the men’s tournament’s top try scorer with 11 tries and was delighted at the prospect of becoming an Olympian, “It’s an absolute dream come true to beat France and go to the Olympics, you don’t get to call yourself an Olympian every day.”

The IRFU said on their website: “It is yet another indelible moment for this squad under the tutelage of IRFU Director of Sevens and Women’s Rugby Eddy, with the Ireland Men’s Sevens now set to become the first Irish Rugby team to compete at the Olympics, in what will be the second staging of the Sevens competition following its introduction in Rio 2016.

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“For the core of the squad – captain Billy Dardis, Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Harry McNulty, Foster Horan, Ian Fitzpatrick, Mark Roche and Bryan Mollen – qualification for sport’s showpiece event is the culmination of six years of hard work, and a major moment for the National Sevens programme.”

The Olympic Men’s Rugby Sevens competition will take place from 26-28 July, with all the action taking place at Tokyo Stadium, which hosted the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2019.

France and Russia’s women also book their tickets to Tokyo with victories in the qualifier finals.

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