Ireland Debutants hope to crash men's podium party

One of the first things David Nucifora did when he became IRFU Performance Director in 2015 was reinstate a formal sevens programme.

Ireland rose through the ranks but missed out on a place at Rio 2016, losing their repechage quarter-final to eventual champions Spain.

Five years on and Ireland made no mistake, beating France in the Monaco final to secure their place at Tokyo 2020.

Sevens pedigree

Ireland had not appeared on the World Rugby Sevens Series for a decade by 2015, and started life in Rugby Europe’s third tier.

But within three years they had reached their first World Series tournament semi-final and a year later qualified as a core team.

In the 2020 season, which was curtailed due to COVID-19, Ireland finished 10th having reached two Cup quarter-finals.

Ireland finished third at the first Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1993, and have competed at every edition bar one.

Anthony Eddy’s side won the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series 2018 having competed in Division C just three years earlier.

Irish speed twins

Ireland’s path to Tokyo 2020 was paved by the tries of Jordan Conroy and Terry Kennedy.

The prolific pair combined for 20 tries in Monaco, and it was Conroy’s second-half brace that proved decisive in the final against France.

Conroy scored more tries than any other player during the truncated World Series 2020, notching 30 in only 28 matches.

Captain fantastic

Captain Billy Dardis, thanks to his metronomic boot, has been on the journey since 2015 and is integral to the way Ireland play.

Dardis is one of the most accurate kickers on the World Series, scoring 164 points in 46 matches.

His boot is also an asset at restarts, as his precision allows Ireland to retain possession and keep the pressure on their opponents.