SKERRIES man Jack Hanratty has been speaking about his delight at securing the position of permanent head coach of the Canada women’s rugby sevens team.
Hanratty had been in the role on an interim position and last week’s announcement was made 10 days after he led Cananda to a fourth-placed finish at the Commonwealth Games.
They narrowly missed out on a bronze medal after losing 19-12 to New Zealand in a highly competitive game.
Since being placed in interim charge of the team in October 2021, Hanratty has led a young, developing squad to a seventh-place finish in the HSBC Sevens Series, the RAN Sevens Qualifiers Championship and a Rugby World Cup Sevens berth, along with that fourth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games.
Hanratty started out as a development officer with Leinster before moving to the Great White North where he took the head job at Nova Scotia ‘Keltics’.
The Dubliner spent 10 years at the provincial side and now he leaves to lead a national programme in Canada.
He has also spent time working with many of Rugby Canada’s national programmes, including the Senior Women’s 15s team and the U20 Women as well as the U17, U18 and U20 men.
Hanratty described the Keltics programme as one of the biggest achievements of his career to date.
In a statement released on the Keltics’ social media, Hanratty said: “I was often asked what it is like working in provincial sport.It’s like owning a small business. You get out of it what you put into it, (it’s) hard to take time off, the lows hit hard and the wins are incredible.”
Rugby Canada hailed his performance to date, saying: “Since taking charge of the senior women’s sevens team, Hanratty - in collaboration with senior women’s 15s head coach Kevin Rouet - has been a driving force in creating a cohesive environment, whereby the development and movement of players between the two programmes has become commonplace.”
Hanratty has identified several goals for the coming years. They involve continuing to build a team to compete for a podium finish on the HSBC Sevens Series, qualification for the Olympic Games and ultimately challenging for a medal position at Paris 2024.
His first major tournament as the programme’s full-time head coach will be the Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa next month.
“To be honest, we’re looking to try and finish fourth again at the World Cup. I think that’s a real possibility,” said Hanratty.
He doesn’t get back to Skerries too much - his last trip home was for his brother’s wedding - but Hanratty said the Skerries travelling contingent at the World Cup series has been quite large.
“My family obviously try to get to as much games as they can, but Hugo Lennox, who’s now playing with Ireland Sevens, I’ve coached him years ago at Skerries, so now it’s a nice full-circle moment,” he added.
In fact, Hanratty’s first game as Canada boss was against Ireland, but he says that he’s on tour so often that there is little chance to return to north Dublin.
The plaudits for his appointment underline how respected he is in the game across the Atlantic, but for him the most important endorsement was from the players.
“It was the longest job interview of my life, but when I was offered the job the players were happy, and while they are nervous for the World Cup there’s now a consistency for them that I’ll be in the job and that can only help the players.”
The World Cup takes place in Cape Town between September 9th and 11th, with Canada starting their campaign against China.