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Ulster duo awarded contracts as Ireland Women's Sevens target Olympic qualification

Two Ulster players have been awarded contracts as Ireland Women's Sevens squad sets its sights on qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Cooke's Ashleigh Baxter has been handed a full-time contract with Monaghan's Lucinda Kingham given a dedvelopment deal.

In a move that has been hailed as reflective of the IRFU's commitment to the women's game, 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.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, said, "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." 

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)*

*denotes player from U18 7s Development programme

Ireland Women’s 7s Qualification Route to 2020 Tokyo Olympics

- Finish as a top 4 ranked team in 2018/19 Women’s Sevens Series

- Top ranked team from 2019 Rugby Europe 7s Grand Prix

- Top ranked team from World Repechage

 (2nd & 3rd highest ranked teams from Rugby Europe qualify)

2018/19 HSBC Women’s World Series Tournaments

USA (Denver) – 20-21st October 2018

DUBAI – 29-30th November 2018

AUSTRALIA (Sydney) – 1-3rd February 2019

JAPAN (Kitakyushu) – 20-21st April 2019

CANADA (Langford) – 11-12th May 2019

FRANCE (Paris) – 7-9th June 2019

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