Ireland have confirmed their squad for June’s World Rugby U20 Championships in Manchester.
Head Coach Nigel Carolan has named a 28-man squad for the tournament, which will see his side face Wales, Georgia, and returning Champions New Zealand in the group stages, kicking off on the 7th June against Wales.
James Ryan captains the side, the giant second row skippered the young Irishmen to third place in this year’s RBS U20 6 Nations, where they beat England, Italy, and Scotland.
The squad includes five uncapped players, David Aspil, Evan Mintern, Vincent O’Brien, and Vak Abdaladze in the pack, and Munster fly half Bill Johnston in the back division.
Johnston will compete with former Sedbergh pupil Johnny McPhillips for the 10 shirt, McPhillips played in that position throughout the 6 Nations despite having been more familiar at full back at school.
McPhillips is joined by another English Schooled pupil in the squad in the form of Epsom College skipper Niall Saunders. The scrum half is still just a schoolboy, but having earned an U20 cap in the 6 Nations he will get his chance in the World Championships at U20 level, a sign of just how highly rated he is.
While for most this will be a first taste of the World Championships, for Andrew Porter, Adam McBurney, and Hacob Stockdale it is a second bite at the cherry after they participated in last year’s tournament.
Speaking at the squad announcement, Carolan said:
“We were happy with how the side progressed during the Six Nations Championship and we were pleased with how the players developed. I felt that we grew as a team over the course of the Championship and that’s something we’re looking to bring to Manchester.”
“We are certainly in one of the toughest pools. Wales are coming off the back of a Six Nations Grand Slam and New Zealand come into the competition as defending champions while the Georgians are always a very physical side so it is a big challenge for us. However, we have a very ambitious group of players that have prepared well so we are looking forward to giving it our best shot.”
Ireland U20 Squad:
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
James Bollard (Dublin UniversityLeinster)
Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf/Leinster)
Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster)
Vincent O’Brien (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Conor Kenny (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Benn Betts (Young Munster/Munster)
Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht)
James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster, captain)
Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster)
Evan Mintern (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Greg Jones (UCD/Leinster)
Will Connors (UCD/Leinster)
Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster)
David Aspil (UCD/Leinster)
Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht)
Niall Saunders (Epsom College/Exiles)
Bill Johnston (Garryowen/Munster)
Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster)
Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
Paul Kiernan (UCC/Munster)
Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Matthew Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster)
Ireland World Rugby U20 Championship schedule:
Tuesday 7th June v Wales, Manchester City Academy, 17.50
Saturday 11th June v New Zealand, Manchester City Academy, 13.30
Wednesday 15th June v Georgia, Manchester City Academy, 17.50
Monday 20th June – play off semi finals
Saturday 25th June – Finals Day