The coaching team to take charge of the ‘Emerging Ireland’ squad that will participate in the inaugural IRB Tblisi Cup in Georgia has been confirmed.
The new annual tournament, which was announced yesterday and is part of the International Rugby Board’s ongoing strategy of increasing the competition schedule for tier 2 nations, will take place in Georgia this June.
The Emerging Ireland team will be battling it out against some of the strongest developing nations in world rugby, with hosts Georgia and a South Africa President’s XV among the sides taking part.
Back-to-back matches will be played on each of the three match days of June 7, 11 and 16 in the Georgian capital with the teams competing in a round robin format.
The confirmation of the final participating team line-ups and the tournament draw will be made over the coming weeks.
The Emerging Ireland management team includes head coach Allen Clarke, who will be assisted by Munster skills coach and former UL Bohemians director of rugby Ian Costello.
Former Ireland and current O2 Ireland Wolfhounds team manager Joey Miles will manage the Emerging Ireland side.
The Ireland senior squad, under the watchful eye of interim head coach Les Kiss, will also be in action during the summer with the tour to North America including two Test matches against the USA in Houston on June 8 and Canada in Toronto on June 15.
Kiss will be involved in the selection of both the senior and Emerging Ireland touring squads and with the Ireland Under-20s also in action in the IRB Junior World Championship in France, the importance for the development of the next tier of Ireland international players is a high priority this summer.
“We are delighted to be taking part in the Tbilisi Cup,” said IRFU director of rugby Eddie Wigglesworth. “Experience at as high a level possible is a key consideration for Ireland teams this summer as we look forward to 2015 and the Rugby World Cup.
“The tier 2 countries are rapidly progressing in terms of their preparations and competitiveness at international rugby.
“We are keen to expose our next level of professional players to this increased level of intensity to allow us to further benchmark those development pathways.
“The Churchill Cup was a positive outlet which allowed us to do that in the past and the Tbilisi Cup now offers that same opportunity to impress at this level for those players who are not selected as part of the senior squad’s tour to North America.”