The Ireland men's team qualified for the semi-finals of France Sevens at the Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse with a superb 14-0 victory over the World Series leaders Argentina. Tries from Bryan Mollen and Terry Kennedy, converted by Hugo Lennox and Mark Roche respectively, gave them a superb win in a ferociously physical contest.
An hour and a half later the Ireland women's team beat Canada 22-21 – they are coached by Dubliner Jack Hanratty – in their quarter-final with a late try from Eve Higgins securing a memorable victory. Erin King, just 18 years-old, capped a superb display with her first two tries for her country while captain Lucy Mulhall crossed for a try and kicked a conversion.
The Irish women were chasing a podium finish in the World Series, and the Canadian victory guaranteed that they will take third place in the overall standings irrespective of what happens in Sunday’s semi-final. Aiden McNulty’s squad will take on Australia (12.52, Irish time), who have already claimed the Series in the semi-final.
The Ireland men’s team’s last appearance at this stage of a World Sevens event was in Singapore in April when they lost narrowly to New Zealand and then were edged out by Australia in the bronze-medal match. On Friday a first ever win against South Africa was followed by a disappointing defeat to Samoa. It left James Topping’s side requiring a victory over Spain earlier on Saturday to progress as runners-up in Group D.
In a topsy-turvy contest, the Irish side prevailed 26-21 through tries from Jordan Conroy, Kennedy, the leading men's try scorer in the World Series, Zac Ward and Andrew Smith with Billy Dardis posting two conversions and Sean Kearns, one.
The Irish side went into the Argentina game as underdogs but produced a composed and resilient defensive performance and crucially took a couple of opportunities to reward that grit under pressure. Jack Kelly, Kennedy and Harry McNulty were standout performers in an excellent team display. Ireland will play hosts France on Sunday at 1.14, Irish time.