The Ireland Sevens management have confirmed the 12 players to compete in this weekend’s Rugby Europe Under-18 Men’s Sevens Championship in Panevezys, Lithuania.
The tournament, which Ireland won for the second year in a row last September in Heidelberg, Germany, will also double up as the European qualifying event for the Youth Olympic Games, which take place in Buenos Aires this October.
16 teams will compete at the tournament in Lithuania, spread across four pools. Ireland are drawn in Pool A along with Italy, Russia and Sweden. The side will be captained by Glenstal Abbey’s Ronan Quinn, who is the only returning player from the successful campaign in Heidelberg eight months ago.
Also included in the travelling squad are Hayden Hyde and Jack Hunt who were regular starters for the Ireland Under-18 Clubs and Schools team this year, with Hyde scoring three tries during the Easter series and Hunt two.
Waterpark out-half Ben Daly, who is also an Ireland U-18 Clubs & Schools representative, helped Munster win the IRFU U-18 Clubs Interprovincial title earlier this season.
Alex Kendellen and Ryan O’Neill featured in the back row for much of the Ireland U-18 Schools team’s Easter campaign, including the U-18 Six Nations Festival in Wales. St. Michael’s College winger Andrew Smith was also part of the Ireland Schools set-up this year.
Showing the development pathway for Under-18 players within the IRFU Seven Programme, Skerries’ Hugo Lennox played in last year’s European tournament in Germany and his impressive performances led to him lining out with the Ireland Men’s Sevens senior team at the Oktoberfest 7s in Munich a few weeks later. He has been part of the wider Men’s Sevens Programme this season.
The Ireland Under-18s are coached by Simon Broughton. Speaking ahead of the squad’s departure for Lithuania, he said: “It’s a really exciting tournament for the players, with the opportunity to not only claim a third Championship, but also a place at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.
“The players were in camp together last weekend, and while they have had limited time together, they are a talented group and I’ve no doubt they will grow and improve as the tournament progresses.”
Rugby Europe will stream the Rugby Europe Under-18 Men’s Sevens Championship games live from Panevezys this weekend at www.rugbyeurope.tv.
IRELAND UNDER-18 MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2018 Rugby Europe Under-18 Men’s Sevens Championship, Aukstaitijos Sporto Komplekse, Panevezys, Lithuania, Saturday, May 5-Sunday, May 6):
Ben Daly (Waterpark RFC/Munster)
Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster)
Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh School/Harlequins Academy/IQ Rugby)
Jack Hunt (Rockwell College/Munster)
Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork/Munster)
John Maher (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
Mark O’Brien (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
Kevin O’Connor (Cashel RFC/Munster)
Ryan O’Neill (Royal School Armagh/Ulster)
Ronan Quinn (Glenstal Abbey/Munster) (capt)
Andrew Smith (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
Ben Watson (St. Gerard’s School/Leinster)
IRELAND UNDER-18 MEN’S SEVENS Management:
Head Coach – Simon Broughton
Assistant Coach – Stan McDowell
Team Manager – Mark Butler
Physiotherapist – Lorcan McGee
IRELAND UNDER-18 MEN’S SEVENS Fixtures –
Day 1 – Saturday, May 5:
Pool A –
Ireland U-18s v Sweden U-18s, Aukstaitijos Sporto Komplekse, 11.06am local time/9.06am Irish time
Ireland U-18s v Russia U-18s, Aukstaitijos Sporto Komplekse, 2.02pm local time/12.02pm Irish time
Ireland U-18s v Italy U-18s, Aukstaitijos Sporto Komplekse, 5.20pm local time/3.20pm Irish time
Day 2 – Sunday, May 6:
The full tournament fixtures and pools are available to view on the Rugby Europe website.