Reds signal their intent for upcoming World Sevens
Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30
Munster have signalled their intent for the World Club Sevens which is coming to Thomond Park next month by naming a couple of leading squad members in their panel for the tournament.
Among the first-teamers expected to be included in a Reds squad featuring a mix of senior and academy players are South African pair CJ Stander and Gerhard van den Heever as well as Ronan O'Mahony and Luke O'Dea.
Former Munster player and current elite development players officer Colm McMahon will coach the side.
"We're really looking forward to it as a team and it's a great opportunity for the city to show itself again," McMahon said yesterday.
"It was mentioned to the players at a squad meeting and they're very excited about it. There's already huge anticipation about who's going to be picked to play. Anthony Foley will decide who is available for the competition.
"There's a great calibre of clubs entered and it's very exciting to go up against them but on our home turf, we'll be looking to make sure that we're well in the mix and putting in good performances."
McMahon, a former Sevens player himself, is convinced that the shortened game can have a major role in player development.
This is the first time that Ireland will host such a prestigious event, and Clare native McMahon is hoping that Ireland can enter a team for Rio 2016 when the sport makes its Olympics debut.
Ireland remains the only rugby-playing nation in the world's top 20 that doesn't have a men's senior Sevens programme. But despite McMahon remaining hopeful of an Irish men's team, he is cautious over the potential effects that it could have on Irish rugby as a whole.
"It would be fantastic to have an Irish men's team because Sevens is a great development tool, but whether we have enough quality players to sustain a national team, four provinces and a Sevens outfit... one or two things would have to be figured out before that can happen," he admitted.
"With Sevens coming into the Olympics, it would be really brilliant to see a driven focus on players getting an opportunity. It's a development tool that allows players to develop through the Sevens pathway, get international experience and then possibly ready for the 15s international side."
Those sentiments were echoed by the tournament's director Terry Burwell, who believes that when the Irish public see Sevens played at such a high level, the tournament could take the game to the next level in this country.
"We're bringing elite Sevens back to Ireland for the first time in a long time. There's always been social Sevens here with Kinsale but this is elite Sevens at men's level. It's an opportunity for people to see the game in its purest and most dynamic form," said Burwell.
"We're hoping this will reawaken Ireland's love affair with Sevens because the women are doing fantastically well and have great aspirations of qualifying for the Olympics.
"At this present time, the men aren't sure if they'll be in the programme but maybe when the Irish public see elite Sevens they'll want to push for having a team in Rio.
As well as boosting the profile of the game, Limerick is set to reap the financial benefits of large crowds in five weeks' time.
"It has to be good for the economy," said Burwell. "We'll be filling plenty of hotel rooms and bars. It is an international event. It's a huge eclectic mix of some of the world's greatest rugby nations and that can only benefit the city."