Mark Roche currently plays for Irish Rugby’s 7s team and agreed to answer ten quick questions about his life in sport.
1. What’s your favourite rugby memory?
MR: Favourite rugby memory has to be when Ireland won the grand slam in Cardiff in 2009.
2. Irish Sevens seems to be going from strength to strength. What’s the ultimate aim?
MR: It has and the ultimate aim is to qualify for the 2018/2019 World Series by winning the Hong Kong series in April next year.
3. Who’s the best Sevens player you’ve played with and against?
MR: Best player I’ve played with is Hugo Keenan because he’s got a great work ethic, he is a reliable teammate, effective in everything that he does and one of the best tacklers on the team.
Best sevens player I’ve played against would be Australia half back Maurice Longbottom. He’s got speed, footwork that beats defenders with ease and a dangerous player when on the ball.
4. Do you think Sevens is receiving the support and coverage its due?
MR: Yes I think it is, the IRFU are fully behind the sevens programme they have given the players a lot of support and still continue to do so, the coverage is getting there as we had to start at from division C and work are way up to the top.
The IRFU have done a great job getting tournaments on live stream on the website so that family, friends and supporters of the game can watch the games.
5. You won a number of AIL titles. What makes club rugby so special for you?
MR: Yes, I have won 2 AIL titles with Lansdowne back in 2013 & 2015. What makes it special for me is the new friendships you make coming out of school into this whole new environment.
The competition is greater as you are competing against guys that are older and younger which makes it a challenge in itself as you’ve always been competing with guys that are the same age in school.
6. Do you think the AIL/club game should be promoted ahead of the B&I Cup?
MR: I feel that it is getting there. I think both competitions are important to Irish rugby and that they both should always be looking to improve from the year previous and get the country aware of both competitions.
AIL has been promoted a lot more this year as there certain rewards for try of the month and player of the month and it’s about recognising the talent Ireland are producing in the AIL.
7. What’s was the toughest part of transitioning from 15s to Sevens?
MR: The toughest part was definitely adjusting to the speed of the game and how fast it is and different it is with 7 players on the field. Same space with less numbers and constantly working for 14 minutes is tough and there’s no room for error in this game.
8. What advice would you give anybody who wants to break through in the Sevens game?
MR: I’d encourage everyone to play as it’s a game that improves basic core skills. It gets everyone involved and you always have a job to do as there’s only 7 on the field.
You also get to play against a number of teams in the tournament as you play 3 group games on day 1 and 3 knockout games day 2.
9. Who’s the best coach you’ve ever played under and why?
MR: The best coach I’ve played under would be Mike Ruddock. I had Mike coach me for a number of years with Lansdowne and the Ireland u20s. I think he is brilliant at managing his players and keeping the team morale high, knows what’s best for the team.
He’s a very honest coach and when he talks to you about your performance he will tell you exactly what you need to know for you to improve your game and he always gets a performance out of the players.
10. You’ve trained with the Women’s Sevens team on numerous occasions. Is the Women’s team receiving the funding and the support they deserve in all codes of the game?
MR: Yeah, I think they are getting the funding and support they need. They are a World Series team and are doing a great job and the IRFU are in full support in getting the players to where they want to be.
• Would an octopus wear gloves or socks?
• Worst roommate you’ve ever had?
Nick Timoney as I roomed with him once and he is a messy guy.