…Reid: ‘Tournament Will Leave Lasting Legacy’…Fans In For Easter TV Treat…Monahan Reflects On U-20 Slam…McAleese Calls For Ravenhill Roar…Opening Fixtures…
REID: ‘TOURNAMENT WILL LEAVE LASTING LEGACY’: Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Ulster Rugby CEO Michael Reid discussed how significant the staging of the 2007 IRB Under-19 World Championship will be for the people of Belfast, Bangor and the whole province.
“Our main reason for wanting to host the tournament was to bring top class sport to Ulster and to leave a legacy behind at the end of the event.
“I believe that we will achieve this and the legacy will be on many fronts, the most obvious would be the young people in primary and secondary education and clubs who will be involved in pre-tournament, tournament and post-tournament events,” Reid commented.
“Many people who have not been to a major rugby event will have the opportunity to watch top class players from the touchlines at the six match venues, but equally importantly there will be legacy with regard to medical facilities, training and match venues, referee development and indeed the experience legacy that it will leave many of my staff in the Ulster Branch with.”
FANS IN FOR EASTER TV TREAT: Irish rugby fans are in for a TV treat as all three of Ireland’s pool stage matches at the IRB Under-19 World Championship are being covered ‘live’ by BBC Northern Ireland.
Charlie McAleese’s side get their campaign off the ground at Ravenhill on Thursday evening when they take on defending champions Australia (kick-off 7.30pm).
Both BBC and Setanta Sports Ireland will have coverage of a range of pool stage fixtures, including Ireland’s clashes with Scotland and South Africa, which will be held at Ravenhill on Monday, April 9 and Friday, April 13 respectively.
So supporters who cannot make their way to the six match venues across Belfast and Bangor have no excuse not to be keeping track of the Irish U-19s and the tournament’s progress!
Digital viewers across the UK regions can access all of the U-19 World Championship’s matches ‘live’ by using their red button.
The competition will be great exposure for the underage game and Ulster and Irish rugby on a whole, as it is expected to build on the record TV figures from last year’s U-19 World Championhip in Dubai.
The Dubai event saw 117 hours of live rugby screened by 16 broadcasters in over 70 countries worldwide.
MONAHAN REFLECTS ON U-20 SLAM: The U-19 side will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Eric Elwood’s Ireland U-20s who so memorably captured the Six Nations title and Grand Slam last month.
Big winger Shane Monahan, who is in the mould of another Boyne RFC graduate Shane Horgan, is still coming to terms with the enormity of the achievement, which was capped off by a 36-25 comeback win over Italy in Benevento.
“In another few weeks it might finally hit home what we achieved, but it really hasn’t sunk in yet.” said the Mornington youngster.
“It was great to win the Grand Slam and the celebrations were brilliant too. We were in this Italian hotel which was styled like something out of the 1940s, and they just kept bringing us wine and Heineken all night.”
U-19 coach McAleese has stressed just how important the backing of the home crowd could be for his charges in Belfast and Monahan revealed the U-20s also drew strength from the support of their families and friends in Italy.
“The Italians were an U-21 side, a year older than us, and their pack were huge guys, so it was fairly tight in the first half and we were behind going in,” he told the Drogheda Independent.
“But we were never really scared of losing. We had been in that position earlier in the tournament, and so we had belief in ourselves to go out and win the match.
“We also had great support from the players’ families, and I had my parents and my brother Simon there in the crowd, which numbered about 2,000.”
MCALEESE CALLS FOR RAVENHILL ROAR: Ireland U-19 coach Charlie McAleese is counting on a big vocal backing for his side when they open their tournament against defending champions Australia on Thursday.
Speaking at the tournament’s media day at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown, he said: “We open our campaign against Australia at Ravenhill on Thursday. We have great respect for Australia – they had a wonderful side in Dubai last season and won the tournament – and also for Scotland and South Africa.
“We are fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us but the home-based crowd will be a 16th man for us.
“Whether they are called Blarney Army or another title, if they are noisy enough they will give them a title!”
DIVISION B –
Wednesday, April 4:
Tonga v Uruguay, Bangor, 5.30pm
Chile v Cook Islands, Queen’s, 5.30pm
Chinese Taipei v Italy, Malone, 5.30pm
Romania v Georgia, Bangor, 7.30pm
Russia v USA, Malone, 7.30pm
Zimbabwe v Canada, Queen’s, 7.30pm
DIVISION A –
Thursday, April 5:
South Africa v Fiji, Belfast Harlequins, 5.30pm
New Zealand v Wales, Ravenhill, 5.30pm (live BBC 2 NI, Setanta Ireland)
Argentina v Japan, Shaw’s Bridge, 5.30pm
Samoa v England, Shaw’s Bridge, 7.30pm
Australia v IRELAND, Ravenhill, 7.30pm (live BBC 2 NI, Setanta Ireland)
Scotland v France, Belfast Harlequins, 7.30pm
– For further information on the tournament, please log onto www.irbu19.com –