The Race for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification really ramps up this weekend with the 2019 Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Olympic Qualifying Tournament taking place in Kazan, Russia. County Wicklow will be strongly represented with two of our local stars heading to Kazan but in a novel twist, these two former clubmates will be bidding for glory but for opposing teams as Tinahely’s Lucy Mulhall who is Ireland’s Captain will be faced by Wicklow Town’s Andrea Petru who will be lining out for the Romanian Women’s Sevens team and as faith would have it both sides have been drawn in the same group in this weekends tournament.
This incredible story will kick right into action on Saturday as Ireland and Romania clash in the Group C opener – Ireland v Romania, Central Stadium, 12.06pm local time/10.06am Irish time and the friendship will be put on hold as both Ladies chase their Olympic dream. Both Lucy and Andrea were club mates as they both wore the Blue & Gold of Rathdrum RFC before making the transition to the Seven’s game and now are united on the field once against but in opposing camps. A draw might be the best outcome here!
I’ve started rugby a few years ago and I loved it. I played sevens for a while and after some time I took the hard decision, sevens or 15s. I love 15s and I love my position, tackling and being a forward. I’ve played in Spain, all the way through college and when I finished it, I took another hard decision, I came to Ireland. That was 2015 and I came as an Au-pair for a family in Wicklow Town and I loved it. That year I played for Rathdrum (Lucy’s Mulhall club).
After spending the summer in Spain I came back to Wicklow (Niall Earls fault ) and I played for Wicklow RFC. We won the league and cup and were promoted to division 2. After two years in Ireland it was time for me to go back home for a while but this time Niall came with me. I played for Abelles Rugby Club Valencia and we won the league and played the play off to the national spanish division. After one year in Spain, Niall and myself came back to Wicklow and both of us went back to our club. It was a great season for both of us, I really missed the hard Irish rugby.
Wicklow Rfc ladies won the league and the cup and we lost against Railway Union in the Metro Cup. We got promoted to Division 1 for the coming season. Amazing season. The club really supports the girls section and this helps us so much.
The same year I got called up for the 15’s Spanish National team for a friendly game in England and a few months later I got a call from the Romanian federation with a very interesting offer, Sevens.
It was a very hard decision because I am not a sevens player but after a few weeks thinking about it, I took my decision. I decided to come to Romania for training and to play the European Sevens Trophy by their side. The team‘s camp is being held on the National Olympic Complex. This is like small hotels for everyone, most of the Romanian Olympic athletes are here, food is nice, weather is nice and training is hard (running, running and more running). Gym, rehab room, pitches, coffee shop, shops around, nice and quiet place.
We won the second tournament of the European Sevens Trophy in Portugal and we finished in second place after Germany in the overall standings. Both of us got promoted to the Grand Prix Series for next season and qualified for Kazan 2019, the Olympics Qualifiers. Our group, the hardest i think, Spain, Ireland Romania and Czech Republic will start the competition with Ireland-Romania. Best of luck to Lucy and her team.
Q. Who is best player, you or Niall?
Well, as you know he is a back and I’m a forward. I’m stronger, prettier and a better tackler. Just kidding, he is an amazing player, great kicker, was a great captain for Wicklow RFC and I love watching him playing. I am so proud of him. He helped me so much with my passing and my rugby before the sevens and gave me the best advice about my rugby. He tried very hard to help me with my kicking but I am a very classic forward
We spoke with Ireland Captain, Wicklow & Tinahely Ladies football star, general all round legend and absolutely brilliant role model Lucy Mulhall and she and the squad are extremely focused on winning this tournament and achieving a massive goal by qualifying for Tokyo 2020. There will be many hurdles in their way with Andrea and her Romanian Team, the first hurdle to navigate for the Irish Team but the focus and determination is easy to pick up on from the Irish Skipper
I think we are all just very excited to get out there this weekend as we have been working towards this for a long time. It’s a major goal for us as a squad! I hope we can do ourselves, our families and our country proud this weekend.
One thing is for sure we are all so proud of Lucy and Andrea and their brilliant achievements and they are the best possible examples to any young girls taking up sport in County Wicklow. To represent your country in any code is a massive deal and one few of us will ever achieve so the fact that Lucy will captain this Country’s Sevens team is an outstanding achievement and one which she can be so proud of.
The Olympic qualifier, which will be live streamed on www.rugbyeurope.tv, takes place at Kazan’s Central Stadium and features the top European sides in Women’s Sevens rugby, including World Series core sides Ireland, France, Russia, England and Spain.
Here’s the details of this weekends events:
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2019 Rugby Europe Olympic Women’s Sevens Qualifier, Central Stadium, Kazan, Russia, Saturday, July 13-Sunday, July 14):
Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster)
Megan Burns (Tullamore/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Brittany Hogan (Railway Union/Ulster)
Emily Lane (Mallow/Munster)
Anna McGann (UCD/Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere/Munster)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
2019 RUGBY EUROPE OLYMPIC WOMEN’S SEVENS QUALIFIER:
POOL A – France, Poland, Italy, Moldova
POOL B – Russia, England, Germany, Sweden
POOL C – Spain, IRELAND, Romania, Czech Republic
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Fixtures –
Saturday, July 13 –
Ireland v Romania, Central Stadium, 12.06pm local time/10.06am Irish time
Ireland v Czech Republic, Central Stadium, 2.51pm local time/12.51pm Irish time
Spain v Ireland, Central Stadium, 5.14pm local time/3.14pm Irish time
Sunday, July 14 –
Play-Offs & Finals
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS – European Schedule:
July 13-14: Kazan, Russia – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Olympic Qualifying Tournament
July 20-21: Kharkiv, Ukraine – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series Second Leg