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England Confirmed As Semi-Final Opponents

England Confirmed As Semi-Final Opponents

The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PwC, will face defending champions England in the semi-finals of the IRB Junior World Championship on Sunday. The clash at QBE Stadium will kick off at 5.05pm local time/6.05am Irish time.

Mike Ruddock’s youngsters made history by reaching the last-four of the tournament earlier today thanks to their second successive bonus point win – a 38-0 defeat of Fiji in wet and windy Auckland.

Click here for a full match report. There is a full repeat of the Pool B tie on TG4 at 12.30pm with highlights being shown at 7.30pm this evening.

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With Grand Slam champions France losing 13-3 to Wales, Ireland actually topped their pool with 11 points. They were ranked third of the 12 competing teams for the knockout stages, behind unbeaten pool winners South Africa and England (14 points each).

Tournament hosts New Zealand nabbed the best runners-up berth with a 54-7 bonus point hammering of Scotland, setting up a rematch with the Baby ‘Boks at the semi-final stage.

The two remaining northern Hemisphere hopefuls, Ireland and England, will meet in the other semi-final showdown. Both games will take place at QBE Stadium in Auckland on Sunday, with live coverage on both TG4 and Sky Sports 1.

Whatever happens at the weekend, Ireland are guaranteed their best ever JWC finish. The 2012 side were fifth overall and overcame England 27-12 in the play-offs that year, while twelve months ago England beat Ireland to a semi-final spot on scoring difference.

Ruddock’s current crop will be hoping to avenge a 30-9 loss to England from this year’s Six Nations, the final scoreline at Franklin’s Gardens not giving a true reflection of how tight a contest it was for long spells.

Speaking to RTÉ earlier today, Ruddock said: “We’re not getting carried away. It’s a really good achievement to reach the semi-finals but we know there’s a lot of work to be done yet.

“We’re really thankful that people like Joe Schmidt helped us before we came away, Greg Feek and Les Kiss too – guys like that came down to our Under-20 sessions and did a bit of work with the guys.

“It’s been a real team effort all the way through, ‘team Ireland’. Jack O’Donoghue, I think, deserves a special mention as captain. He’s led from the front and has rallied his troops superbly.

“Look, let’s see what happens. If we can make a final then we might start talking about being a bit more of a special group. If we can win the World Cup then definitely they can talk about being a special group. But at the moment it’s just another game and we’ve got to front up and continue to improve.”


England (1st, Pool  A) v IRELAND (1st, Pool B), QBE Stadium, 5.05pm local time/6.05am Irish time (live TG4/Sky Sports 1 HD)

South Africa (1st, Pool C) v New Zealand (Best Runners-Up), QBE Stadium, 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time (live TG4/Sky Sports 1 HD)

IRB Junior World Championship Fixtures/Results