UPCOMING FIXTURESThe final pool stage matches in Divisions A and B at the 2007 IRB U-19 World Championship will be played over the next 24 hours. Why not go along and catch a double header that is closest to you?
DIVISION B FIXTURES: - Thursday, April 12 -
Zimbabwe v USA, Queen's, Belfast, 5.30pm
Chile v Uruguay, Bangor, 5.30pm
Chinese Taipei v Cook Islands, Malone, 5.30pm
Tonga v Italy, Queen's, Belfast, 7.30pm
Romania v Canada, Bangor, 7.30pm
Russia v Georgia, Malone, 7.30pm
DIVISION A FIXTURES: - Friday, April 13 -
Scotland v Fiji, Shaw's Bridge, Belfast, 5.30pm
New Zealand v England, Ravenhill, Belfast, 5.30pm
Samoa v Japan, Belfast Harlequins, 5.30pm
Argentina v Wales, Shaw's Bridge, Belfast, 7.30pm
Australia v France, Belfast Harlequins, 7.30pm
South Africa v Ireland, Ravenhill, Belfast, 7.30pm
LEGACY PROGRAMME UPDATES
As part of the staging of the U-19 World Championship in Belfast and Bangor, the Ulster Branch of the IRFU is running a comprehensive Legacy Programme aiming to spead the rugby word to children and adults alike and getting more people interested in the game.
Team activities to encourage this include open training sessions and community visits while there is also a legacy programme aimed at local referees and coaches. See below for a flavour of what has been happening this week:
New Zealand Visit The Newforge Taggers -
Easter Sunday saw members of the New Zealand U-19 squad visited the Newforge Taggers club.
The club was set up earlier this year to provide rugby for children with learning difficulties.
Ulster centre Paul Steinmentz, himself an All Black, is their patron.
New Zealand U-19 assistant coach Richard Smith, trainer Eric Kneepkens and eight players ran the session for children with an assortment of learning difficulties including downs syndrome and autism.
England Coaching Clinic -
On Tuesday, the England U-19 coaching staff ran a coaching clinic at Pirrie Park on the topic of Modified Games. Approximately 40 local coaches attended and the session was well received. A second coaching clinic was held courtesy of the Australian coaching staff on Wednesday evening at Ballyclare RFC on the the topic of Skill Development.
Running the coaching clinic was also a way for head coach Nigel Redman and the England squad to say thank you to the people of Belfast who have lived up to their reputation as great hosts.
“We’re here for three weeks and we’ve got the people of Belfast and Methodist College (England's training ground) really looking after us and it is great to offer something back," Redman admitted.
“We’ve had a really good turn out of coaches and the players are really enthusiastic and really enjoyed the session.”
Legacy Quiz Winners -
Jason Gribben of Dromore was the winner of the Secondary School/Youth Level Legacy Quiz on www.ulsterrugby.com and on Tuesday of this week he and a friend spent a day with the Ireland U-19 squad and management as his prize. No doubt the day offered Jason a real insight into how the team is preparing for their next match in the championship this Friday against South Africa.
Megan Bourke of Holywood Primary School was the lucky winner of the Primary School/Mini Level quiz and the England U-19 players and management will visit her schoool next week to take a coaching session as her prize.
French Coaching Session At Ballyclare RFC -
The coaches of the French U-19 Team ran a coaching session on Tuesday evening at Ballyclare RFC for their U-18 and senior teams. Sebastian, Jean Marc and Jean Luc ran the session, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the players. A great night was had all round and the French coaches were impressed by the club, its history and the Guinness!
Tongan Team Visit Wellington College -
The Tonga U-19 team paid a visit to Wellington College recently to pass on their expertise to a group of lucky pupils. During the visit, the players handed out some IRB goodies and Wellington College have now adopted the Tongans as their Division B team.
Romanian Team Visit Tyrella Primary School -
The pupils of Tyrella Primary School in Downpatrick were delighted to welcome the Romanian U-19 players when they called in earlier this week. They also received some IRB goodies from the players.
DID YOU KNOW?
That there will be four birthdays celebrated amongst the Ireland squad during the 2007 U-19 World Championship. Number eight and captain Paul Ryan turned 19 last Friday, prop Matthew Nelson entered his final year as a teenager last Tuesday and both scrum half Harry McAleese (April 18) and out-half Alan Gaughan (April 21) will have candles to blow out in the coming days.
DAVID IS 'KEANE' AS EVER
David Keane is the only Irish referee on duty at the 2007 IRB U-19 World Championship, although Peter Ferguson, Richard Kerr and David Wilkinson are also gaining valuable tournament experience as touch judges.
Keane, who works as a Referee Development Officer with the IRFU's Referees department, has already had a season to remember with a stint at the IRB World Sevens Series in Dubai, amongst other appointments. The Leinster Branch referee was chosen to referee the final in Dubai between New Zealand and South Africa, becoming only the second Irishman to do. David McHugh, now a colleague of Keane's at the IRFU, also refereed at the event previously.
A former pupil of Clongowes Wood, Keane has refereed 'A' internationals, World Cup qualifiers and many domestic club and provincial games. He is a member of Old Belvedere RFC.
This is the second U-19 World Championship he has officiated at - he refereed five matches at the 2004 event in Dubai. He will be the man in the middle for tomorrow night's Division A meeting of Scotland and Fiji at Shaw's Bridge.
MCALEESE LOOKING FOR FURTHER IMPROVEMENT
Ireland coach Charlie McAleese is looking for his side to up their performance levels as they search for a vital win against South Africa in the IRB U-19 World Championship tomorrow evening.
To stand any chance of making the semi-finals, the Irish will need to beat the Baby 'Boks and possibly with a bonus point in tow as eight teams still have realistic hopes of gaining a top four place in Division A. The pool stages finish tomorrow with six games at three venues in Belfast.
Of his side's opponents, McAleese said: "The South Africans are very big and physical. They were unlucky against France, but France played very well and upped things from the first game. They are definitely very strong and we need to get our levels up."
Ireland grabbed a last-gasp 13-12 win over Scotland last time out and McAleese, the former Ulster mentor, is quick to recognise the high standard of this year's competition.
“It is very unique as at all the recent Under-19 World Championships, of all the queues for a top four spot this one is longer than usual.
“There’s been a rise in standards across the board. Some of the lesser teams in the adult game are very strong at this competition, which can only be good for the game," he told the tournament's official website, www.irbu19.com.
Whether they beat South Africa or not, McAleese has still be encouraged by the way his young players have adapted to the tournament setting and the added pressure of representing the host nation.
“It’s two pronged as we want to win, but need improvements. We need to make progress at these things and step up and learn. Some players haven’t played at this intensity before, but they’ve adjusted well."