The U18 Tri- Nations series took place last week, with teams from Ireland, England, and France, playing at Ashbourne RFC in Dublin.
Ireland selected an Ireland U18 ‘A’ squad that was effectively a second string to their U18 side competing in the U18 5 Nations Festival in Wales. England entered the England Counties U18 side, the team that was formerly known as the England U18 Clubs & Schools XV, made up of players from the regional and county trials. France meanwhile selected a side called the France U18 Poles Espoirs, a side picked from their Poles Espoirs academies.
Ireland and France opened the tournament, with a strong France side beating the hosts 23-10.
That victory meant that a win in their next game, against England Counties U18, would secure France the title. They duly collected it, beating England 14-8 despite trailing at half time. It was a deserved victory though for the French side, who were by all accounts the strongest there.
That left the final game of the series, Ireland U18 A v England Counties U18, as something of a dead-rubber, though at this level there really is no such thing. Each game is a chance to showcase talent and present yourself with a chance of furthering your rugby career. Not to mention that naturally competitiveness kicks in anyway.
There was also second place in the series to play for, and Ireland collected that position with a 21-17 victory. It was far from simple though. In the last play of the game, England led 17-14, only for Ireland to win a kickable penalty. Rather than kick for the draw though, Ireland boldly went for a tap penalty, which saw blindside flanker Jack O’Sullivan dive over to secure the victory.
It was, as ever a superb three games of rugby, and a wonderful opportunity for these players to showcase their talents as they hope to press for a professional contract, as Oyonnax’s Dan Lewis, Saracens’ England U20 world champion Aaron Morris, and Harlequins’ Harry Sloan have all done previously, among others.
U18 Tri-Nations Series Results:
Ireland U18 A 10-23 France U18 Poles Espoires
England Counties U18 8-14 France U18 Poles Espoires
Ireland U18 A 21-17 England Counties U18
|Unofficial U18 Tri-Nations Table|
|1||France U18 Poles Espoires||2||2||0||0||4|
|2||Ireland U18 A||2||1||0||1||2|
|3||England Counties U18||2||0||0||2||0|