Shane Layden has already had a busy summer of sevens rugby helping Ireland to within one tournament win of a place at next year’s Olympics in Rio.

But the former Connacht man insists he can’t wait to throw himself back into things this weekend when he pulls on the colours of his old club once more at the Limerick World Club Se7ens.

Almost a month ago to the day, Layden and his Ireland teammates were celebrating a top-three finish at the Rugby Europe Olympic repechage in Lisbon.

Not only did it mark an impressive achievement for a team that did not exist 12 months previous, but it also kept alive their hopes for Rio 2016 with victory at next June’s 12-team World Olympic repechage booking the team’s ticket to Brazil.

For 22-year-old Layden, it was just rewards for his hard efforts after it was announced in May he was bringing an end to four seasons with Connacht to concentrate on switching to sevens.

He has already noticed the impact the Ireland team’s burgeoning success this summer has had on the country but Layden will get another opportunity to see that enthusiasm first hand after being named as Connacht captain for the Limerick World Club Sevens at Thomond Park this Friday and Saturday.

“It’s brilliant to be back playing sevens again. We had a few weeks off after the last tournament with Ireland but I can’t wait to get going again, ” he said.

“It would be massive to qualify for Rio next year. It seemed to be that someone had an idea to bring it back and then the original plan would be to go for 2020 but I think we have outdone ourselves in qualification and now we’re just one tournament away from Rio.

“It’s a really exciting time and there’s a buzz around Ireland around rugby sevens. It’s really taken off and for me that’s great.

“It’s the space of sevens that is so attractive. It’s a lot less rigid than 15s and there’s a great atmosphere.

“You get to travel away for weekends to really cool places and it’s a real party atmosphere with all the fans getting involved. I’m sure Limerick will be the same.

“As players we don’t get to see as much of that party as the fans do, but we are certainly looking forward to it.”

The Limerick World Club Sevens – the only international event of its kind – will be the first time all four Irish provinces will play in an international Sevens event, building on last year’s phenomenal tournament.

And with the northern and southern hemisphere also represented at Thomond Park, Layden is predicting some fierce battles on the pitch.

“I am really looking forward to this weekend and pulling a Connacht shirt on again, ” he added.

“I’ve been training with the lads, some of them have not played that much sevens.

“But it’s a great opportunity for them to learn. It should be good fun.

“I have leant a lot this year playing with Ireland, and I’ll be trying to transfer that over to Connacht and helping out the team.

“It’s a great honour as captain and hopefully I’ll be able to offer up advice and experience to the other guys on the team.

“I know a few of the lads quite well in the other teams too so it will be good to catch up, there’s already been a bit of heckling about who is going to win, there’s a bit of competition there.”

 

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