The Ireland Under-20s got their Junior World Championship challenge of to a winning start against Argentina. On Tuesday they face tournament favourites New Zealand. Hooker Tom Sexton brings us up-to-date with life in the camp with the second installment of his Japan Blog.
The day prior to the Argentina match we had a team run at the Mizuho Rugby Ground. We weren’t allowed wear boots on the pitch and could only spend 30 minutes there, because the Japanese are very strict on time management.
Throughout the tour every player is asked to make up a CD to listen to on bus journeys and up until now there have been some dubious selections:
Mark Flanagan’s CD lacked clear variety but it still managed to please the elder statesmen. Dominic Ryan’s reputation as a ‘crowd pleaser’ came under intense scrutiny as his CD failed to live up to ‘southside socialite ranking’ which he claims is very high!
And Paddy McAllister has a lot to learn if he hopes to continue his dream of being a DJ in Ibiza after he retires!
Match day was very long with a lot of waiting because of the evening kick-off. It is a very nice stadium here in Nagoya, conditions could not have been better as it had rained the morning of the game leaving the pitch perfect for our match.
The warm-up was sharp and you could feel the electricity building.
We had a lot of local support from the Japanese draped in Irish jerseys and flags, some were bearing banners with very strange expressions, ‘Push Jack, go!’ the most notable.
The match was a tight affair with our own mistakes preventing us from dominating the scoreboard.
We had plenty of possession thanks to supremacy in the lineout and territory due to our tactical kicking.
Midway through the first half, Dave Kearney (brother of Lions tourist Rob!) cut a great weaving line to offload superbly to the debutant Nevin Spence for the only try of the game.
Our defence was never really tested as Argentina seemed content to carry around the fringes and seemed to kick the ball away at every opportunity.
In the end, we made hard work of it but this bruising encounter will stand to us against New Zealand on Tuesday night.
The following day we took it easy with a pool session in the morning. Afterwards some players and coaches took part in the legacy programme which involved coaching young Japanese children the game of rugby.
One child in particular, named Jumbo, reminded the coaches of a young Asian Jack McGrath and is certainly a future prospect for the Japanese front row!
On Saturday Rhys Ruddock arrived fresh from completing a week doing his A-Levels in the UK. He has three more exams to complete during his time in Japan, we wish him all the best!
Back to business on Sunday as we trained hard in preparation for Tuesday night against New Zealand and what may prove to be the toughest test of our rugby careers to date.
Unfortunately we lost our talismanic leader Peter O’Mahony through suspension. However we are still confident that we can perform to the best of our ability despite his considerable absence.
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