Head coach Noel McNamara has named the Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to face hosts France in Perpignan on the opening night of the World Rugby U-20 Championship on Wednesday (kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time).
Props James French and Jack Aungier pack down with Garryowen hooker Diarmuid Barron, who is one of the six players included who are appearing at the World Rugby U-20 Championship for a second season.
Matthew Dalton and Jack Dunne start together in the second row, with the back row consisting of Joe Dunleavy, Matthew Agnew and fit-again number 8 and newly-appointed captain Caelan Doris, another player who is starting his second U-20 Championship campaign.
There are three uncapped players in the selected back-line, with Young Munster’s Dan Hurley and Tom Roche from Lansdowne filling the wing berths, with UCC’s promising centre Peter Sylvester also picked to win his first Ireland U-20 cap.
Sylvester joins Leinster ‘A’ regular Tommy O’Brien in a potent midfield combination, while there is an all-Leinster half-back pairing in Harry Byrne and Hugh O’Sullivan. Dublin University’s Michael Silvester, who was also involved last summer in Georgia, features in the full-back position.
There are nine personnel changes to the Ireland side that lost 34-24 to France in Bordeaux in February’s U-20 Six Nations opener, with injuries notably impacting on the selection. Silvester, O’Brien, Byrne, Aungier, Dalton and Dunne are the six starters who are backing up from the spring clash.
Ireland’s bench contains two uncapped players in Trinity hooker Dan Sheehan and prop Joe Byrne, while Aaron Hall, Sean O’Brien and Charlie Ryan were involved in this season’s U-20 Six Nations. Jordan Duggan, Jonny Stewart and Conor Dean will all provide experience as replacements, having all played in last year’s U-20 Championship.
Speaking ahead of the opening Pool C fixture, Noel McNamara said: “There has been a great build-up to this game, with positive work done both at home and since we arrived here in France, and everyone is looking forward to getting the tournament underway.
“We know from the Six Nations how vocal and passionate the French fans are and there’s no doubt that there will be a fantastic atmosphere in Perpignan tomorrow. The players have worked hard and they know the task ahead, so for them it’s about focusing on their roles and going out there and playing with conviction.”
Wednesday’s match will be broadcast live on eir Sport 2 in the Republic of Ireland and online in non-geo blocked locations via World Rugby’s Facebook page and www.worldrugby.org. For more information on the tournament, click here.
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v France Under-20s, 2018 World Rugby U-20 Championship Pool C, Stade Aimé-Giral, Perpignan, Wednesday, May 30, kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time):
15. Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster)
14. Tom Roche (Lansdowne/Leinster) *
13. Tommy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
12. Peter Sylvester (UCC/Munster) *
11. Dan Hurley (Young Munster/Munster) *
10. Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
9. Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf/Leinster)
1. James French (UCC/Munster)
2. Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen/Munster)
3. Jack Aungier (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
4. Matthew Dalton (Malone/Ulster)
5. Jack Dunne (Dublin University/Leinster)
6. Joe Dunleavy (Malone/Ulster)
7. Matthew Agnew (Ballymena/Ulster)
8. Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt)
16. Dan Sheehan (Dublin University/Leinster) *
17. Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster)
18. Joe Byrne (Dublin University/Leinster) *
19. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
20. Aaron Hall (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
21. Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster)
22. Conor Dean (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
23. Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
* Denotes uncapped player at this level
IRELAND U-20s’ World Rugby Championship Fixtures:
Pool C –
France v Ireland (live eir Sport 2)
Stade Aimé-Giral, Perpignan, Wednesday, May 30, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time
South Africa v Ireland (live eir Sport 2)
Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitie, Narbonne, Sunday, June 3, 4.30pm local time/3.30pm Irish time
Ireland v Georgia (live eir Sport 2)
Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitie, Narbonne, Thursday, June 7, 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time
Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitie, Narbonne or Stade Aimé-Giral, Perpignan, Tuesday, June 12
Stade de la Mediterranee, Béziers, Sunday, June 17