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Sevens move was made with World Cup in mind, says IRFU

By Cian Tracey

The IRFU have defended their decision to pull three key players from Ireland Women's Grand Slam bid and stated that "Sevens is not the priority".

Ireland host France in a crucial Six Nations clash on Sunday but will be without Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller and Hannah Tyrell who will instead fly to Las Vegas on the same day for a World Series Sevens tournament which takes place next weekend.

The Union's Director of Women's and Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy pointed to the "development opportunities" that were being afforded to players.

But on the back of a plethora of new caps handed out over the last couple of years, this Six Nations had been seen as crucial for establishing partnerships ahead of the World Cup which takes place in Ireland in August, with Belfast a host city.

It is understood that there has been discontent within the 15s squad at being forced to be without three players who are pivotal to the team.

"It was always the plan," Eddy said.

"We knew a long time ago that there would be difficulty in this time to manage the squads.

"We're certainly not disrespecting the tournament but we are looking to provide other girls opportunity to compete around positions for World Cup and Six Nations.

"We've got to go into the World Cup with 28 capable players and we absolutely used November for that opportunity and we're still continuing to look at opportunities for players to be exposed to the highest level.

"The long-term vision of it (Sevens) is that we want to be successful. You look at what other countries have done and you learn from them. It's been used as a development programme for men and women around the 15s game."

The trio, who are contracted Sevens players, are expected to return for Ireland's final two games against Wales and England.

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