Search icon


14th Dec 2023

IRFU confirm one player from each province can be selected for Olympics Sevens squad

Patrick McCarry

Olympic Sevens

Things just got interesting…

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora has confirmed that a player from each of the provinces can be selected for Sevens duty, next year, with an eye on the 2024 Olympics.

The summer games will take in Paris, next year, and Sevens rugby is on the roster of events. Ireland have qualified for both the men’s and women’s competitions.

To date, the most high profile XVs player to commit to giving Sevens a crack, in 2024, is Toulouse and France Antoine Dupont. It is expected he will miss out on a chunk of this current rugby season, including some of the 2024 Six Nations, to take part in Sevens training and events.

There had been speculation that Ireland could go down the same route as France. At a media briefing this afternoon (December 14), Nucifora stated that the IRFU had worked out an arrangement with each of the four provinces. The Sevens coaching team can select one contracted player from each province. While it is not a pre-requisite, having previous Sevens experience would help greatly.

When the news was announced, former Leinster and Ireland star Gordon D’Arcy remarked that the new rule seemed tailor-made for fullback Hugo Keenan, who has previous Sevens experience. Here are four candidates from each province that jump off the page to us:

Hugo Keenan (Leinster) – As mentioned, has Sevens experience and was a highly regarded player in the format. Would be a wrench for Leinster to let him go, especially if they (as they usually are) are chasing trophies on two fronts. Scott Penny and Ryan Baird are other options, as is Jamie Osborne.

Shane Daly (Munster) – Another with Sevens experience, between 2017 and 2019, and a speedster in open field. Tom Ahern and Calvin Nash would also be interesting options.

Andrew Smith (Connacht) – The Dubliner, who is now over with Connacht, is familiar with the Sevens circuit and would easily slot back in. The exciting option here, of course, Mack Hansen. Would add so much to the current, highly competitive, Ireland Sevens side.

Aaron Sexton (Ulster) – A Sevens dynamo, who played his part in helping Ireland qualify for the last Olympics. Another good option at Ulster is the pacy, rangy Rob Baloucoune.

Even though a player from each province can be selected, they would be no means guaranteed places in the final Olympics squad. Each player would have to duke it out with those on the current roster for final spots, and opportunities to impress.

Last weekend, Ireland men’s sevens side defeated New Zealand for the first time ever in the format on their way to a semi-final, during the South Africa leg of the HSCC World Series.


Related articles:

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?