Eddy: Sevens investment is crucial to be competitive
Published 23/06/2016 | 02:30
Sevens rugby in this country has yet to really grab the attention of the general public but should the women's team seal Olympic qualification in UCD this weekend, it would go a long to putting the sport on the map.
Last weekend in Monaco, the men agonisingly missed out to the eventual winners and despite the fact that Spain is hardly a rugby stronghold, the fact remains that their Sevens programme is much more advanced than Ireland's.
It's taken the IRFU some time to see the potential of Sevens but the introduction of a men's programme in October 2014 and women's in the summer before has finally set Ireland on the right track.
The appointment of Anthony Eddy in December 2014 as Ireland's director of Sevens and women's rugby was a shrewd appointment.
Eddy previously worked in a similar role with the Australian Rugby Union and has brought a wealth of experience with him. And now, with the player pool increasing, Ireland are beginning to see the rewards of a lot of work that has gone into the programme.
With only 18 months to prepare, it was always going to be a tough ask for the men to qualify for Rio and so it proved but Eddy has seen enough growth to suggest that they can become contenders on the World Series.
For that to happen, however, he is adamant that more investment is needed from the IRFU.
"I think it (Sevens) has grown," Eddy said.
"Once you're in the World Series for the men, if you want to be competitive, we've definitely got to up our investment.
"The women's programme, it's a similar sort of thing; over the last 18 months we've managed to get on the World Series which is giving the game greater recognition around the country.
"I think it would be fantastic (to qualify for Rio). A lot of people would stand up and take recognition of what the game is."