The Ireland women’s team came agonisingly close to a stunning triumph in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series final at the Estadio Cartuja in Seville on Sunday evening. They led tournament favourites and perennial winners Australia 12-5 with two minutes remaining but conceded two tries, the second of which came in injury-time at the end of the game to lose 17-12.
It was a heartbreaking finish for a gallant Ireland team that had their chances to claim a remarkable win in their first ever final on the World Sevens Series. Tries from Béibhinn Parsons and Stacy Flood with captain Lucy Mulhall kicking a conversion gave Ireland a 12-0 lead but Australia regrouped impressively and demonstrated why they have won three of the four legs in the World Series to date.
After finishing ninth and seventh in the two tournaments in Dubai and fifth in last week’s event in Malaga the Irish team captained by Lucy Mulhall enjoyed an unbeaten run to the final, easing past Poland (14-10) and Brazil (29-12) on the Friday, a strong Russia team (21-14) and then Canada in the quarter-final.
Earlier on Sunday they hammered England 29-0 in the semi-final to earn a shot at Australia. Ireland Sevens’ try-scoring sensation Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe continued those exploits by crossing for nine en route to the final including a hat-trick against Canada.
Parsons scored four tries, two of which came in the semi-final win over England, but in truth everyone of the squad contributed handsomely across the tournament for new coach Aiden McNulty, including teenager Erin King. Eve Higgins and Stacy Flood were outstanding.
The Ireland men’s team also reached the Cup semi-finals for the second time in their history – they won a bronze medal in London in 2018 – but were dispatched 29-0 by South Africa, a team they have never beaten in the World Series.
That defeat saw them drop into the bronze-medal match where they took on an Argentina team that had beaten Ireland 19-12 in the pool phase. And it was the South Americans that came out on top in another cracking contest this time, 12-5. Nevertheless it’s been a brilliant tournament for Anthony Eddy’s Irish Sevens programme.