Belfield to Tokyo - Team Ireland Rugby Sevens

Image Credit: Norway World, Wikimedia Commons

In the first of our Belfield to Tokyo features, Christine Coffey breaks down the journey of UCD current and former students on Team Ireland’s Rugby Sevens team on their way to this summer’s Olympics.

Four UCD students have been selected for Ireland’s Rugby 7s side for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo. 7s made its debut as an Olympic Sport in Rio, although the Irish side fell short of qualifying, and their focus turned to pushing for a place as a core team on the World Sevens Series. UCD RFC has always had a strong presence within the Ireland Sevens programme, and the side selected for these Olympic Games will be no different.

As an invitational team at the 2018 London Sevens, the side finished third, a remarkable finish for a non-core side. Core team status followed the winning of the Hong Kong World Series Qualifier tournament in 2019, and ever since, the Irish side have been more then holding their own on the world stage.  


Billy Dardis

Dardis, who captains the Olympic team, began his rugby journey in Nass RFC and Newbridge College, before switching to Terenure College for his final years of secondary school. While studying Health and Performance Science at UCD, he was part of an exciting crop of young backs playing both for Collidge and the Ireland U-20s, lining out alongside Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne and Gary Ringrose regularly.After a few years in the Leinster Academy, Dardis moved to the 7s programme and was part of Ireland’s bid for the Rio 2016 Olympics. 

Dardis, a scrumhalf on the 7s pitch, is usually tasked with taking the restarts, a crucial source of possession in 7s, particularly where the Irish side can sometimes have an advantage over their opponents given their Gaelic Football background. He has captained the side through the European Grand Prix events, 2018 World Cup, the exceptional performance in the 2018 London Sevens tournament, qualifying for the World Series as a core side, and now to Ireland 7s’ first appearance in the Olympic Games. 

Harry McNulty

It could be argued that ‘well-travelled, could apply to any international rugby player, as for several months of the year the teams are hopping from one international destination to the next on the world series. It seems an understatement when applied to Rockwell College alumnus McNulty, who arrivedin the Tipperary school via London and New York, before winning the Munster Senior Cup against Pres. Along the way,Harry and younger brother Sean McNulty both eventually found their way to Belfield and have been proud Collidgeplayers ever since. Harry studied Food Science, while Sean studied Business and Sports Management. Both brothers now ply their trade for Major League Rugby side LA Giltinis, and Harry continues to represent Ireland in the 7s game. Like Dardis, McNulty is a long-serving member of the Irish 7s team and has been involved since the bid for the 2016 Olympics, including the World Cup and the qualification for the World Series. 

Gavin Mullin

After moving to the senior ranks, UCD Ad Astra athleteMullen faced stiff competition for gametime in the centre, an area of the pitch in which Leinster have certainly not been lacking in depth. Like his father, British and Ireland Lion Brenden Mullin, Gavin also attended Blackrock College, before making the move to UCD to study Business and Law, where he recently sat his finals. Compared to McNulty and Dardis, Mullin is relatively new on the scene, but will be nonetheless excited by the opportunity presented by the Olympics and the chance to play on one of the largest stages in world sports.

Adam Leavy

Adam Leavy is currently completing his masters in UCD, and although the Lansdowne RFC player hasn’t played for the UCD side, his brother Dan is familiar face in the club. After finishing his studies in St. Michaels, and his time with the Connacht academy in Galway, Leavy joined the 7s programme in 2017. Ever since Leavy has established himself as a hard working forward on the side who is always a breakdown threat.


In the final Olympic 7s repechage, speedster Jordon Conroy and the skillset of Terry Kennedy gave Ireland the clinical edge in attack that proved the difference between them and the much-fancied French side to book their seats to Tokyo, a little over a month before the opening ceremony. Ireland will face tough opposition in Group C, with the successful South Africans, athletic and star-studded USA side and the experienced, series stalwarts Kenya. Their campaign begins in the early hours of the 26th of July and concludes just as early on the 27th, whereafter their results will determine the rest of their fixture list. The 7s tournament is due to be completed on the 28th. 

Ireland Men’s 7s Group Fixtures (Irish Time)

3:00 am 26th of July vs South Africa

10:30 am 26th of July vs USA

3:00 am 27th of July vs Kenya