10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
At the start of this IRB U21 tournament, when asked about their targets, the Irish management made the point that it was the players themselves who set the targets. Their aim initially was to finish in the top four. Obviously to do so they had to win their Pool game against Tonga, Argentina and France.
They completed that phase with such a degree of control that it looked almost like ease. And when they achieved that initial goal, they said, they would re-assess the situation, set new targets.
They were as good as their word. On Sunday they take centre stage - the IRB World Championship Final - against the most formidable unit in world rugby at this level.
Throughout the campaign, coach Mark McDermott, his assistant Pat Murray and team manager David Haslett have constantly referred to the application, attitude and professionalism of this squad, both on and off the field.
The management themselves deserve enormous credit for their part in preparing this side. They have been closeted together now for almost a month yet have managed to remain fresh physically and just as important - mentally.
Outside of the opening game, when McDermott emptied his bench, they have used the bare minimum of players, the injury to Tommy Bowe forcing the only change to the starting XV in the course of the four games so far.
Explaining this tactic, Haslett said, The first match we used all of the players (22). We took a decision as games wore on that we would keep the players on the pitch for continuity.
Some people might say maybe bring on players for fresh legs type of thing But the interesting fact was as the second halves have been wearing along we've been getting increasingly on top
So the decision was taken to keep the players on the field because there was no apparent sign of fatigue.
"We're winning we're playing well, we're confident and so we decided to keep them together as distinct from disrupting the team
If McDermott and Co have left a lot of the responsibility to the players they have ensured that those players are well armed with knowledge about their opponents at every stage. Videos have been supplied by the organizers of every game and those videos have been prepared for dissection by Munster video analyst George Murray who has organized his summer break to co-incide with this tournament. With New Zealand standing between them and glory McDermott lays it out plain and simple,
It's 95 per cent about the back-up staff now, in gathering and dissecting the analysis and coming up with a gameplan.
It's been marvelous so far and a great achievement to get to the final. But we don't want to stop now. It was a challenge to get here and we face another challenge on Sunday. We'll go about that challenge the same way as we have before.