The Ireland men’s team made history in reaching the final of the France Sevens at the Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse on Sunday, the first time they have made the decider in a World Series tournament.
Despite a gutsy performance, particularly in the first half, James Topping’s squad were eventually overwhelmed by a rampant Fiji, the Olympic champions winning 29-17, with Ireland having to settle for a silver medal.
The Fijians led 14-12 at the break, Ireland scored two tries through Jordan Conroy and Terry Kennedy. However, a three-try salvo in three minutes after the restart effectively sealed the outcome for Fiji, despite Conroy’s second try in injury-time.
Ireland’s previous best result in the World Series was in 2018 when they beat England in the bronze medal match in Twickenham. They qualified for the final following a brilliant 24-7 win over hosts France to set up a final against the Olympic champions, Fiji, their first ever on the elite circuit.
Ireland’s player of the year and leading try scorer in the World Sevens series Kennedy weighed in with a brace of tries. The St Mary’s man scored the first try of the match but the French responded with one from Nisie Huyard but Mark Roche restored Ireland’s lead and converted his own try to give his side a 12-7 interval lead.
Kennedy’s second try two minutes after the restart and another from Andrew Smith, converted by Billy Dardis, wrapped up a stunning win.
The Ireland women’s team faced a very tough final day, losing 40-7 against Series winners Australia, and in the bronze-medal match they went down 26-10 to Fiji. Those defeats meant that the Irish team finished fourth in the overall standings for the six tournaments, level with France (second) and Fiji (third) on 60 Series points behind champions Australia but were relegated to fourth on points differential.
Ireland briefly led 7-5 against Australia through Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe’s fine solo try, converted by Lucy Mulhall. But the Aussies responded emphatically, running in six tries and converting five of them.
Against Fiji, Aiden McNulty’s side trailed 14-0 at half-time and despite tries from Stacey Flood and Vicki Elmes Kinlan the Fijians closed out the match to pip Ireland on the day and in the overall series.