Ireland earn world cup sevens berth


IRELAND secured a place in next year's World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong with victory in their qualifying group in Lisbon.

New Zealand, Canada, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, South Korea and Spain also booked their places in the first of three qualifying tournaments. Eight more slots will be decided in Dubai and five in Punta del Este, Uraguay, England, Australia and Hong Kong have automatically qualified for the March 1997 event.

New Zealand ran away with the Lisbon trophy - routing Spain 68-5 in the final - after Ireland had fallen to the Spanish in the semi finals, having battled through four matches to secure their ticket to the finals, Ireland ran out of steam against Spain and lost in the last minute.

High scoring victories over Hungary and Norway were followed by a tougher assignment against Sweden in their opening game on day two.

They had to hit back alter conceding the opening try before eventually winning 33-10.

They then beat Croatia 47-0 to finish sixth out of eight qualifiers.

That ensured them a tough quarter final with Romania, but two second half tries from David Humphreys inspired a 31-12 win.

In the semi final against Spain, who had beaten Canada 26-19 in the quarters, a Paddy Johns try two minutes from time regained the lead and looked to be enough to send his side through to the final.

But Felipe Tayed latched on to a speculative cross kick to score the winning try in a 24-21 success and set up that final with the All Blacks.

Ireland's defeat means they will be grouped in Hong Kong with the winners from Punte del Este and the seventh best side in Dubai.

The untouchable All Blacks hoisted their points tally for the tournament to 459 in seven outings. That total included a staggering 69 tries, including 10 in the final.

Peter Woods and Bradley Fleming both grabbed hat tricks Fleming finishing with 20 tries in the tournament.

Scotland's selectors on their New Zealand tour have opted for fast finisher Derek Stark ahead of Stirling County's Ken Logan for, the hotly contested left wing position in the side to face Waikato tomorrow.

Stark, who won the last of his four caps in 1993, scored two cracking tries against Wanganui in the Scots tour opener and looks very much in form on this tour.

The other position that has generated competition is scrum half. For the Waikato game the selectors have preferred Bath scrum half Andy Nicol to Gary Armstrong.