11 Irish rugby players been given full-time contracts as the Women’s Sevens team open their campaign to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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.
All of the eggs are going in the sevens basket with confirmation that none of the senior internationals will be given contracts for playing in the Six Nations or any other XV’s matches.
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, says having representation at the Olympics is of crucial importance for the organisation: "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.”
Anthony Eddy, Director of Women’s & Sevens Rugby feels the investment is reflective of eager the IRFU are to grow the game:"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."
“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.
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)*