The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PwC, will kick off this summer’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship against tournament hosts France at Perpignan’s Stade Aimé Giral on Wednesday, May 30 (kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time).
The match schedule has been announced for the 2018 World Rugby Under-20 Championship, which will take place in France between May 30 and June 17, with Ireland drawn in Pool C alongside South Africa, host nation France and Georgia.
Three venues will host the tournament at the Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan, Stade de la Méditerranée in Béziers and the Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié in Narbonne.
Noel McNamara’s Ireland Under-20 side will renew rivalries with their French counterparts, facing them in the opening round as they did in the current U-20 Six Nations campaign. They lost out 34-24 in Bordeaux but second half tries from Jonny Stewart and James McCarthy, coupled with a penalty try, showed where they could hurt France.
McNamara’s charges will move on to Narbonne for their other two pool games, taking on 2017 bronze medallists South Africa on Sunday, June 3 (kick-off 4.30pm local time/3.30pm Irish time) and meeting Georgia for the third successive year on Thursday, June 7 (kick-off 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time).
The Ireland Under-20s’ class of 2016, who finished as runners-up under the captaincy of James Ryan, recorded a 35-7 victory over Georgia during the pool stages in Manchester, while a number of the current crop played in last June’s 24-18 play-off win over the Junior Lelos in Tbilisi which saw Ireland finish ninth overall.
Ireland have not played France in a World Rugby U-20 Championship fixture since losing 19-13 in their 2014 pool opener in Auckland. The Ireland U-20s’ most recent meeting with South Africa was back in June 2012 when they opened that year’s tournament with a superb 23-19 triumph over the hosts in Stellenbosch.
Seven current senior internationals were on the field that night in South Africa – Chris Farrell, Kieran Marmion, Niall Scannell, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan and Luke McGrath – along with Munster’s JJ Hanrahan, the man-of-the-match for Mike Ruddock’s youngsters, and Tadhg Beirne who is set to join Farrell, Scannell and Hanrahan at Munster next summer.
Narbonne and Perpignan will host the semi-finals and ranking play-offs on Tuesday, June 12, with Béziers hosting all finals day matches on Sunday, June 17 across two pitches.
2018 WORLD RUGBY UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIP POOLS:
POOL A: New Zealand, Australia, Wales, Japan
POOL B: England, Scotland, Italy, Argentina
POOL C: South Africa, France, IRELAND, Georgia
IRELAND UNDER-20s’ POOL C FIXTURES –
Wednesday, May 30:
France Under-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Stade Aimé Giral, Perpignan, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time
Sunday, June 3:
South Africa Under-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié, Narbonne, 4.30pm local time/3.30pm Irish time
Thursday, June 7:
IRELAND UNDER-20s v Georgia Under-20s, Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié, Narbonne, 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time
Semi-Finals/Ranking Play-Offs – Tuesday, June 12
Finals – Sunday, June 17