There is more than one international women's sevens in Amsterdam this weekend. Away from the World Series, the Amsterdam Sevens Silver Pier tournament feature 32 teams, including 14 national and national development squads for whom Amsterdam is a key part of their preparations for next month's European Championship.
Among these is one team whose ambitions go well beyond just the Europeans, and who could be serious challengers for a place in Rio - Ireland.
Ireland captain Lucy Mulhall
Even if England or France win an automatic Olympic place in Amsterdam, the European qualification process promises to be by far the most competitive of all the regional competitions. Not only will current European Champions Russia be competing for a place, but so will fellow WSWS member and Black Fern conquerors Spain as well as two other former WSWS teams, Netherlands – and Ireland.
Ireland showed their huge sevens potential in 2013 when – despite having not played any international sevens for the better part of a decade - they came from nowhere to reach the Sevens World Cup and qualify for the 2013/14 World Series (ahead of rivals such as France and Netherlands).
A decision to concentrate on XVs in 2013/14 meant that their largely untried team took part in the WSWS and was relegated - though in retrospect this was followed by fourth place in the WRWC, a win against New Zealand, and then a Six Nations championship (with several former sevens players transferring that experience to XVs) which suggests it was the right decision.
Now Ireland are back in sevens with the strongest-available squad, firmly believing can repeat their success of two years ago, and anyone in Amsterdam on Saturday and Sunday will be able to get a first look at the new team when the compete in the 32-team women’s Silver Pier tournament.
While Australia and New Zealand have found a rich source of cross-over players from Touch, it's Gaelic football and camogie experience that has been in the sporting background of many top Irish players, and the new sevens squad includes two more GAA stars. Louise Galvin has been a regular with Kerry’s football team in recent years (as well as captaining her university basketball team), while Eimear Considine has represented Clare in both of the Gaelic football and camogie.
This weekend, Ireland will play the Ushizi Warriors (a Swiss/Dutch combination), Finland and Norway (officially the Norwegian Vikingettes) with sevens Player of the Year Lucy Mulhall captaining a team that includes a number of well known XVs players including Katie Fitzhenry, Alison Miller, Claire Molloy and Jenny Murphy.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, Anthony Eddy, IRFU Director of Rugby Sevens, said: "It's important for the squad to get competition time ahead of the European Championship in June. This is the beginning of the journey to qualification for the Olympics in Rio 2016. As a squad we are very clear and focused on what we need to do over the next few months. Everyone has worked really hard and knows it's time to put in the performances and deliver."
Other teams in the women’s competition include the development teams from Brazil, France, Netherlands and Canada and the national teams of Georgia, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Scotland, Switzerland and Wales as well as current champions from Australia, Tribe 7s.
The full Irish team for Amsterdam is: Eimear Considine, Katie Fitzhenry, Stacey Flood, Louise Galvin, Shannon Houston, Claire Keohane, Alison Miller, Claire Molloy, Lucy Mulhall (Captain), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Emma Murphy, Jenny Murphy.