Ireland lead the race to secure one of the two European qualification places available for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 after beating Russia 17-14 in the final of the Clermont round of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series.

The Irish sit top of the standings on 56 points after winning their second title of the series, two points clear of Lodz winners Russia with Spain a further two points back going into the final round of the series in Exeter on 15-16 July. 

The top two nations in the series will qualify for RWC Sevens 2018 in San Francisco and join fellow Europeans England, France, Wales and Scotland who have already confirmed their places in San Francisco either by their finish in the 2013 edition or via the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17.


With Germany fourth on 34 points it is a three-horse race for those two qualification places and Ireland will take confidence from having beaten both Russia and Spain in the knockout stages in Clermont-Ferrand as well as host nation France.

Ireland finished top of their pool with victories over Belgium, Italy and Wales at the Stade Gabriel-Montpied, the venue for the climax of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series a week earlier.

Harry McNulty's converted try saw them edge France 7-5 in the quarter-finals and then a great solo try from Jordan Conroy was the pick of their tries in a 17-5 semi-final defeat of Spain, who will play on the world series after regaining their core team status.

Conroy scored twice in the final as Ireland avenged their loss to Russia in the Lodz semi-finals three weeks earlier, Nick Timoney also dotting down. Vladimir Ostroushko and Denis Simplikevich scored for Russia but Conroy raced around the latter to score the winning try midway through the second half.