Major coup as Ireland sign up to take on England at Greene King IPA Sevens tournament in Bury St Edmunds

Bury Rugby Club chairman Mike Robinson

Bury Rugby Club chairman Mike Robinson - Credit: Archant

The Ireland national sevens team has signed up to compete in this year’s Greene King IPA Rugby Sevens tournament at Bury St Edmunds, pitting them head to head against the England squad.

The IRFU (Ireland) are now investing in a full Rugby Sevens development programme with qualification for the 2020 Olympics as a specific target, and they see competitions like the Greene King IPA 7s as a vital part of that journey.

The tournament, one of the premier UK sevens events, will take place at Bury Rugby Club on Sunday May 8 and is widely expected to be one of key competitions for this summer’s Olympics GB team selectors.

Now in its eighth year, the tournament will once again operate three concurrent competitions; an elite men’s tournament, an open competition for the top amateur sides, and a women’s tournament.

Mike Robinson, Bury Rugby Club chairman, said: “2016 Greene King IPA Sevens is set to be even more impressive than in previous years with two national squads already confirmed to play and heightened excitement for the sport ahead of its debut in the Rio Olympics this summer.

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“Once again spectators will have the chance to meet a surprise rugby hero, just as they did last year when England and Saracens player Billy Vunipola joined us.

“We have a phenomenal line up of teams and top talent taking part, some of whom will be playing for their places in the GB squad to go to the Olympics in August.

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“Sevens Rugby is fast and exhilarating to watch, making it a superb spectator sport, and we look forward to welcoming many thousands of sports fans once again this year.”

Elite teams confirmed to date are England and Ireland, Apache, Esher, Barracudas, Oxfam Crusaders, Northampton Saints, Newcastle Wailers, Samurai International, Rambling Jesters and Worcester.

Teams competing in the open men’s line up are Bury St Edmunds Barbarians, including many of Bury’s current National Two first XV squad, Bulldogs, Culford School, Royal Navy, Gandolf Saxons, Turf Cutters, Stunts, Essex University and Apache Braves, whilst Bury St Edmunds, Harwich, Woodbridge, FRN and Essex University make up the women’s tournament so far.

Last year’s winners Northampton Saints, who are being coached by former England full back Dusty Hare, will be returning to defend their title for the third successive year and battle for a slice of the £7,000 prize money, presented to them by this year’s sporting celebrity guest.

Previous guests have included England players Chris Ashton, James Haskell, David Strettle, Courtney Lawes, Dylan Hartley and, last year, Billy Vunipola.

Gates open from 9.30am with tickets available on entry or in advance with early bird discounted tickets via the club’s website

Gate prices are £15 per adult, £5 for U16s and free for Under 5s.

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