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'This Sevens is great craic, but we are a XVs country!' | Wednesday Night Rugby

Ireland should focus on XVs rugby over the Sevens, which is only 'streamed online' according to Gerry Thornley and Fiona Hayes.

Ireland should focus on XVs rugby over the Sevens, which is only 'streamed online' according to The Irish Times' Gerry Thornley and former international Fiona Hayes.

The Irish XVs team was majorly disrupted in the business end of the TikTok Six Nations this year, losing almost half of their starting line-up before facing England in the penultimate weekend of the championship.

The Sevens players headed to Canada, where they finished third in Langford. It would be only the second podium finish for the Irish sevens, following up from their silver in the previous tournament.

However, the World Sevens Series has no broadcasting rights in Ireland, meaning that the only place that it can be watched on the island is on YouTube.

For Thornley and Hayes, this coupled with the fact that Ireland supports XVs much more than Sevens, means that the IRFU's decision to focus on the Sevens series makes little sense.

Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Thornley discussed the issue facing Greg McWilliams and the IRFU High Performance Director David Nucifora.

"They definitely need to resolve the XVs-Sevens issue," Thornley said. "That is just crazy. In fairness to the IRFU, I can't understand how World Rugby allow an international Sevens tournament to be on the same weekend as the finale to the Six Nations?

"I don't understand the rationale in sending away full time players to a tournament that is just streamed online, away from a tournament that had 150 thousand on Virgin Media and 650 thousand on the BBC.

"I don't know if David Nucifora quite gets the fact that, in Ireland, we are very much XVs. This Sevens is great craic, but we are a XVs country."

For Thornley, the viewership of the XVs game alone should dictate how much focus it gets over the Sevens.

"Audience figures alone, this is shop-window stuff," Thornley said. "Ireland against England in the Six Nations, Ireland against however in the Six Nations on terrestrial television as against a Sevens tournament in Canada.

"Well done to the girls for finishing third, great effort. But I think England finished ninth. There is no doubting where their priorities are."

'We love the XVs game'

Hayes, who joined Thornley on Wednesday Night Rugby, praised the Irish Sevens side for their achievement in Langford, but stressed that the country as a whole would still support the XVs side more.

"Some of these girls haven't even really played XVs," Hayes said. "They don't understand it, so they went and got third, and they were absolutely delighted, and I was delighted for them to get it.

"I know the training that's gone in and the hard work that's gone in. But, as nation, this country loves the Six Nations.

"We love the game of XVs. You might switch over and watch the Sevens, I might tune in online, but the heart is in the XVs game.

"I know it comes down to money and all that, but they are going to have to decide going forward it is either one or the other.

"Or else, get together with World Rugby and change the times of these tournaments, change the dates.

"I talk to people who just tuned into the women's game, asking me about Eve Higgins and why she wasn't playing in the England game," Hayes added.

"It is very hard to explain to that person on the outside what is going on. We love the XVs game. The Sevens girls might argue this is where we want to play and that is all well and good, but we need to get the national XVs game up and runnign and then we can see what we can do from there."

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