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The Irish Rugby Football Union is doubling down on the game of 7s, with a big year ahead of the team leading up to the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens to be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco. In preparation for the big quadrennial, Ireland has scheduled three tournaments for the remainder of the year, including the Silicon Valley 7s in San Jose's Avaya Stadium in November.
Silicon Valley, which marks the first time the Irish 7s side has competed on American soil, will be sandwiched by the DHL Oktoberfest 7s in Germany in September and Dubai in December. The IRFU has announced a core squad of 14 athletes from the club game and the provincial academies of Munster, Connacht, Ulster and Leinster who will prioritize 7s over the coming months. They will be complemented by others looking to get into the green shirt.
"This is a really positive step and provides a core group of players with an opportunity to focus primarily on Sevens this season, as many of them have already committed so much to the success of the program over the last couple of years," said IRFU's director of 7s Anthony Eddy.
"They will continue to play club rugby and train with the academies, but they will have a greater commitment to the 7s program and will be provided the opportunity to train and play 7s more regularly, rather than just the weekend camps that have operated during previous seasons."
Ireland was among the first nations to qualify for the World Cup Sevens, and they were one of the last to miss out on the 2016 Olympic Games. This despite the fact that the IRFU all but ignored the game of 7s until late in the Olympic cycle goneby. The Irish are looking to book their ticket to Tokyo 2020, and a successful stop at Silicon Valley might be just what the doctor ordered.