The Irish Rugby Football Union has announced the female players who have been contracted under the Sevens Programme as the squad set its sights on qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
23 female players have been contracted for the 2018/19 season which sees the Women’s squad competing on two fronts to secure Olympic qualification via the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series and Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix.
Cooke’s Ashleigh Baxter has been awarded a full-time contract, while Monaghan’s Lucinda Kingham has been included on the list of development contracts. Claire Boles and Brittany Hogan, who developed their games at Enniskillen and Ballynahinch respectively, have also been given development contracts.
Anthony Eddy, IRFU Director of Women’s & Sevens Rugby, commented, “It is a huge year for both the women’s and men’s squads as we strive to qualify both teams for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The World Series is a massive competition for the women’s programme providing access to top class international opposition across the season and it takes on added significance this year as a direct qualification route for the Olympics.
The women’s squad will also be competing on the Rugby Europe Grand Prix circuit next summer which is another qualification route for the Tokyo Olympics.”
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented, “This investment reflects Irish Rugby’s ambition for Ireland 7s to be represented at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in two years’ time.
The 23 women’s player contracts and the establishment of match payments for the Women’s XV squad is reflective of the IRFU’s strategic goals to develop the women’s game over the coming years.
Full-time XV’s contracts are not being considered at present as the greatest level of investment within the women’s game will be focused on developing and enhancing the player pathway experience, creating greater access to the game and driving participation.”
The Ireland Men’s 7s squad contracts for the 2018/19 season will be confirmed following the completion of the Celtic Cup. The men’s squad are also targeting Olympic qualification this season as well as seeking to secure a place on the World Series.
Ireland Women’s 7s Qualification Route to 2020 Tokyo Olympics
– Finish as a top 4 ranked team in 2018/19 Women’s Sevens Series
– Top ranked team from 2019 Rugby Europe 7s Grand Prix
– Top ranked team from World Repechage
(2nd & 3rd highest ranked teams from Rugby Europe qualify)
Women Full-Time Contracts
Kathy Baker (Blackrock College)
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Railway Union)*
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union)*
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union)*
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum)
Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe (Railway Union)*
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere)
Women’s Development Contracts
Claire Boles (Railway Union)*
Megan Burns (Tullamore)*
Anna Doyle (Railway Union) *
Katie Heffernan (Railway Union)*
Brittany Hogan (Railway Union)*
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians)
Lucinda Kingham (Monaghan)*
Emily Lane (Mallow)*
Anna McGann (Old Belvedere)*
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere)
Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union)*
Dorothy Wall (Fethard)*
*denotes player from U18 7s Development programme
2018/19 HSBC Women’s World Series Tournaments
USA (Denver) – 20-21st October 2018
DUBAI – 29-30th November 2018
AUSTRALIA (Sydney) – 1-3rd February 2019
JAPAN (Kitakyushu) – 20-21st April 2019
CANADA (Langford) – 11-12th May 2019
FRANCE (Paris) – 7-9th June 2019