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Hong Kong Sevens

Resurgent Ireland eyeing route one to elite club of Sevens World Series

Irish star Jimmy O’Brien says they have taken the fastest possible route to the Hong Kong qualifier and are keen to carry on winning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2018, 8:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2018, 10:38pm

Ireland’s intention when they returned from sevens wilderness two years ago was to make it as fast as they could to the elite level. So far, so good.

The Irish won both of their matches at the Sevens World Series Qualifier at the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday to lead pool G and edge closer to qualification for the World Series.

“This is the earliest we could have come to Hong Kong,” said Irish player Jimmy O’Brien, referring to their progress up the levels to the Hong Kong qualifiers. “We started off in Division C of Rugby Europe and we have won every tournament we have played in so we are on target.

“For anyone who plays sevens, playing in Hong Kong is a dream. We have some tough matches coming but hopefully we can do as well as we are within reach of the World Series.”

The Irish opened with a comfortable 41-5 victory over the Cook Islands in pool G and followed up by beating Jamaica 26-0. Their final group match is against Uruguay, who also won both their matches – 22-5 against Jamaica and 38-0 against Cook Islands.

“It’s going to be tough [against Uruguay], it’s not an easy game because in sevens, it’s so short anything can happen,” said Bryan Mollen. “If we can stay focused for 14 minutes we have a chance.”

Ireland started their campaign to become a world power in sevens a little more than two years ago but they had to start from the bottom, taking part in a Division C tournament in Bosnia.

They gradually moved up the levels and have taken the fastest possible route to the qualifiers in Hong Kong.

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Also hoping to qualify for the World Series is Chile, who stunned Asian favourites Japan in their second pool E clash to give themselves a chance of reaching the knockout stages. Chile beat the Japanese 19-10 after losing to Uganda 14-10 in their opener.

They stand third in pool E on three points, behind Japan on points difference. Uganda lead the table with six points.

The Chileans face winless Georgia in their final match on Saturday. Skipper Felipe Brangier said his side have worked hard for their results on Friday.

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“We are happy to be here, it’s our fourth time at the Hong Kong Sevens and it’s a special tournament for us and we are trying to qualify for the World Series,” he said.

“We are very happy with our win, we were probably a bit lazy in the first match [against Uganda] but mentally and physically we were better against Japan and we are happy with that.

“We had a tough preparation for this tournament, playing against other teams in South America. We are specialists in sevens and we are trying to do our best in this discipline.”