BAHRAIN-born Harry McNulty and his Ireland teammates have successfully qualified for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco after they secured the runners-up spot in the Rugby Europe Grand Prix series in the English West Country last weekend.
Despite suffering what based on recent results was something of a surprise loss to 2009 World Champions Wales at the semi-final stage of the fourth and final round in Exeter, Ireland’s third-place finish was ultimately more than enough to see them through to next year’s showpiece event alongside series champions Russia.
As has been customary for the Ireland squad over the course of the series, they made light work of the pool stages with comfortable victories over Portugal, Belgium and France on day one and followed that with an impressive 24-7 defeat of England in the quarter-final.
McNulty and co had already earned a place at next year’s World Rugby Sevens Series qualifying tournament in Hong Kong with a second cup victory in France earlier this month and they entered the final round with their fate in their own hands.
Yet again, the 24-year-old former St Christopher’s School student was an ever-present in Ireland’s seven games and, despite only getting his name on the scoresheet once this time round, his influence on the team continued unabated and he captained the side twice in the absence of regular skipper Billy Dardis.
Last weekend’s result will have been a particularly satisfying one for McNulty, who was one of four members of the squad – alongside Mark Roche, Ian Fitzpatrick and Terry Kennedy – who were part of the original playing group put together when the Irish Rugby Football Union launched its Sevens programme back in 2015, under the watchful eye of Australian Anthony Eddy.