Warriors look to Rio
RIO 2016 -- that is the vision of the men and women behind the Shamrock Warriors rugby club seeking to put Ireland on the path towards participation in the Brazil Olympics.
Sevens rugby will appear in the global games for the first time in 2016 but Ireland, without a side competing regularly on the professional Sevens circuit, are lagging behind the major rugby-playing nations -- as well as developing countries such as Kenya, the US and Japan in the truncated version of the game.
The Warriors aim to close the gap by playing regularly in club competitions using All-Ireland League players and past professional players under the technical guidance of ex-Leinster, Ulster and Scotland coach Matt Williams and the head coaching of former Leinster out-half and Ireland Sevens representative Fergal Campion.
The intention is to develop the game in this country and use the IRFU-approved Warriors as the foundation for a national side, gaining the backing for participation in the Olympics and the Sevens circuit, with an IRFU decision due in 2013. The IRB have still to announce details of the qualification process for the Olympics.
The Warriors will compete in tournaments such as the Kinsale Sevens, Omagh and London Rocks and plan to travel to Dubai and Hong Kong.
While the Shamrock Warriors, a self-funding organisation, have received sponsorship from Stash Sportswear, Optimum Nutrition and Clonakilty Black Pudding, they are anxious to attract more sponsors, with former internationals Denis Hickie (honorary chairman) and Malcolm O'Kelly backing the cause.
"We need partners to come on this journey with us," said Williams. "Hopefully, the journey ends up in Rio and we will get the Sevens going and the IRFU come in and support it."
A Shamrock Warriors women's squad, coached by ex-Ireland captain Sarah Jane Belton, is also set to take part in competitions this summer.