U20 6 Nations: Ireland aim to keep Grand Slam hopes alive against France

Ireland have named their side to take on France on Friday as they aim to keep their run towards an U20 6 Nations Grand Slam going.


Ireland have so far beaten England, Scotland, and Italy, but Friday night’s 7.15pm kick off at Irish Independent Park will likely be their toughest, with France the reigning U20 6 Nations and World Rugby U20 Championships champions.


Head Coach Noel McNamara has only made one change to the side that won 34-14 in Italy last time out, Munster’s Sean French coming in at inside centre in place of the injured David Hawkshaw to partner Leinster’s Liam Tuner.


Commenting on the change to www.irishrugby.ie McNamara said:


“It’s really unfortunate for David to miss out. He has been in great form on the pitch and has been a fantastic leader of the side over the course of the campaign and everyone wishes him well in his recovery. Sean French comes into the side and he has done really well for his club in the All-Ireland League over the last few weeks, so we know he has the ability to perform in front of his home crowd in Cork.”


Elsewhere in the backs it is again Munster’s Jack Flannery at full back with clubmate Jonathan Wren on the left wing and Ulster’s Angus Kernohan on the right, Leinster’s Harry Byrne and Munster’s Craig Casey are again the half back partners.


Up front Munster’s Josh Wycherley is at loosehead with Dylan Tierney-Martin of Connacht hooking, Leinster’s Thomas Clarkson is at tighthead. His clubmate, Charlie Ryan, again captains the side from the second row alongside Connacht’s Niall Murray, while in the back row it is again the Leinster pair of Martin Moloney and Scott Penny flanking number 8 John Hodnett.


The bench sees four Leinstermen in John McKee, Ryan Baird, Cormac Foley, and Rob Russell, with two Ulstermen, David McCann and Callum Reid, joined by a player each from Munster and Connacht, Ben Healy and Ryan Lomas respectively.


Speaking to www.irishrugby.ie on his side, McNamara said:


“We were pleased to come home from Italy with a bonus point win, but there are still elements that we feel can be improved on, so it’s about continuing to progress as we move through the tournament.”


“The French are still in the hunt for the title and they are a big side, so for us it’s about sticking to our game plan and looking to match their physicality

The players took so much from the atmosphere in Irish Independent Park on the opening night of the Championship against England and are itching to get back out there this week.”


Ireland U20 XV v France: Friday, 7.15pm, Irish Independent Park, Cork (Live on RTE)


15 Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster), 14. Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster), 13 Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster), 12 Sean French (Cork Constitution/Munster), 11 Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster), 10 Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster), 9 Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster), 1 Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), 2 Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht), 3 Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster), 4 Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster, captain), 5 Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht), 6 Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster), 7 Scott Penny (UCD RFC/Leinster), 8 John Hodnett (UCC/Munster).

Replacements: 16 John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster), 17 Callum Reid (Banbridge/Ulster), 18 Ryan Lomas (Galwegians/Connacht), 19 Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster), 20 David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster), 21 Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), 22 Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster), 23 Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster).


Ireland U20 6 Nations Fixtures:


Round 1 – Ireland 35-27 England

Round 2 – Scotland 5-24 Ireland

Round 3 – Italy 14-34 Ireland

Round 4 – France – Friday 8th Mar, 7.15pm, Irish Independent Park, Cork (Live on RTE)

Round 5 – Wales – Friday 15th Mar, 7.15pm, Stadwim Zip World, Colwyn Bay (Live on RTE)

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