Ireland Under-19s, coached by Charlie McAleese this season, have been drawn to face England, France and Samoa in the pool stages of the 2006 IRB U-19 World Championship in Dubai.
With the seedings based on the final standings at last year's tournament in South Africa, the Irish have been seeded ninth for next April's Championship in the Emirates.
Having lost successive pool ties against South Africa and Australia, the Irish, under the tutelage of Pat Murray, regrouped to pull off wins over Japan (31-18) and Scotland (15-8) in the play-offs last April.
McAleese's side will kick the Dubai tournament against England on Wednesday, April 5, then they face France on Sunday, April 9, before ending the pool stages against Samoa, who were promoted from Division B last season, on Thursday, April 13.
South Africa are the defending champions, having beaten New Zealand 20-15 in the '05 decider.
The 2006 match venues will be the Sharjah Wanderers Rugby Club and the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club, home to the Dubai leg of the IRB Sevens. Matches will be assigned to venues shortly.
McAleese gets his tenure as Ireland Under-19 coach up and running next month with two home fixtures against Australia.
The former Ulster mentor will be assisted in his coaching duties by Bobby Byrne and ex-Ireland international Killian Keane. Former Ireland Schools' coach Keith Patton is the team manager for this season.
IRB UNDER-19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP:
- POOLS (Seedings in brackets) -
Pool A: South Africa (1), Argentina (8), Ireland (9)
Pool B: New Zealand (2), Romania (7), Scotland (10)
Pool C: Australia (3), Wales (6), Japan (11)
Pool D: England (4), France (5), Samoa (12)
- FIXTURES -
Match Day 1: Wednesday, April 5, 2006: South Africa v France, Argentina v Samoa, Ireland v England, New Zealand v Wales, Romania v Japan, Scotland v Australia
Match Day 2: Sunday, April 9: South Africa v Samoa, Argentina v England, Ireland v France, New Zealand v Japan, Romania v Australia, Scotland v Wales
Match Day 3: Thursday, April 13: South Africa v England, Argentina v France, Ireland v Samoa, New Zealand v Australia, Romania v Wales, Scotland v Japan
Match Day 4: Monday, April 17: Play-Offs
Match Day 5: Friday, April 21: Play-Offs, Final
Other Ireland U-19 Fixtures:
December 17, 2005: Ireland U-19 'A' v Australia U-19, tbc
December 21: Ireland U-19 v Australia U-19, tbc
February 25, 2006: Ireland U-19 v Wales U-19, tbc
March 17: England U-19 v Ireland U-19, tbc