Sport Rugby

Monday 24 October 2016

'Olympic prospect can help Sevens rugby flourish' - Ulster boss James Topping

Charlie Talbot-Smith

Published 11/08/2015 | 15:10

James Topping
James Topping

SEVENS is the talk of the town at the moment as Ireland aim to qualify for the Rio Olympics and James Topping is hoping Ulster can ride that momentum into the World Club Se7ens later this month.

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Thomond Park will play host to 12 teams from the around the world on the weekend of August 21 and 22 and Topping will take charge of the Ulster side.

With Ireland in the process of trying to qualify for Rio through next year’s Global Olympic Repechage tournament, Topping’s squad will include current international Aaron Cairns.

And former Ireland winger Topping is confident there will be others who can follow Cairns path to the Ireland set-up if they impress in Limerick next month.

“There is not a lot going on just at the moment with rugby so 7s is what everyone is talking about, particularly with the Irish team trying to qualify for Rio,” he said.

“The World Club 7s will hopefully therefore give a chance to a few more of our lads to get into the set-up.

“It’s a great chance to grow the game in general as well and hopefully get more people involved.

“Sevens has only really been viewed as a social game in Ireland for a long time but now the chance is there to play internationally, hopefully it can really grow.

“Due to the World Cup and everything else, there will be some academy guys but our squad will be primarily made up of players from the club scene.

“It’s a great chance for guys from clubs to push their claims and get some exposure at a higher level.

“There are guys in clubs and academies who maybe don’t get that much of a chance to be seen but now they can prove themselves.”

Ulster have been drawn in Pool 3 alongside Connacht, Buenos Aires and Golden Lions while other Pools see the likes of Daveta Fiji, Stade Francais and Wellington involved.

And Topping knows that he and his charges will have their work cut out for them if they are to make inroads in front of Irish crowd.

“Having a look through the teams, clearly they have got a lot more experience than us,” he added.

“But we have got a lot of skilful guys who can play, it’s probably fair to say we are struggling for out and out flyers.

“Most of guys have not had many if any chances to play at a place like Thomond Park as well and hopefully that sort of environment will get a positive response.

“Teams like the Golden Lions and Buenos Aires, it’s going to be great to see how our guys fare up and if they go well, it might set them up to play provincial level.”

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