12 Dec, 11:30
The Ireland Under-19 team to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm) has been announced.
The Islanders, made up of players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, are due to play Test matches against the Wallabies on July 3, the All Blacks on July 10 and the Springboks on July 17.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) Council met Monday to approve regulation changes naming Pacific Islanders as an IRB member that can force a club to release a player it requires for Test match rugby. "I am delighted the IRB has moved to protect the Islanders and to ensure we can have first and last call on the Fiji, Samoa and Tonga players who are keen to participate," said Pacific Islanders Rugby Alliance chief Charlie Charters.
The change also covers the British and Irish Lions who, like the Islanders, have been recognised as an IRB member for the first time for the purposes of player release.
Islanders coach Wayne Pivac welcomed the change saying. "The issue of player release is a critical one for the Pacific and this is a good move that can put our players on the front foot when they discuss with their clubs their participation in the Islanders."
The inaugural Islanders will be selected following the Pacific Tri-Nations Series that opens in Apia on May 29 with hosts Samoa facing Tonga. Tonga play Fiji in Nuku'alofa on June 4 and then Samoa travel to Suva to play Fiji on June 12. The Islanders squad will be named on June 13.
Meanwhile, All Black legend Michael Jones has been confirmed as head coach of Samoa. Jones replaces New Zealander John Boe and his appointment was announced by Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, and banker Michael Fay, chairman of the New Zealand based Manu Samoa Rugby Ltd.
"This appointment is special to me and I am very humbled by it", said Jones, who has been assistant Samoa coach for the last four years.
Boe said Samoan rugby had a bright future under Jones. "I have no doubt Michael Jones will do a fine job and I wish him and Manu Samoa all the best as they start their preparations for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France", said Boe.
New Zealand-born Jones, 39, first played for the All Blacks in 1987 and went on to play 55 Tests and 74 games in All Black colours.
This year Samoa will play Tonga in Apia on May 29, Scotland in Wellington on June 4 and Fiji in Suva on June 12.
AFP - 2004.