Ireland Under-18 Schools head coach Peter Smyth has made ten changes to the team to play England, the U-18 Six Nations Festival hosts, at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off 1.40pm). The game will be shown live on Free Sports – channel 429 on Sky in Ireland.
There are new pairings in the centre and at half-back, along with an all-new front row, as the Irish management give opportunities to players who were on the bench or not involved in the 29-24 first round defeat to France in Gloucester.
Into the back-line come Shane Jennings and Diarmuid Kilcommins, who were both part of Galway’s All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship-winning team last year, as well as out-half Cian Whooley, a recent Munster Schools Senior Cup winner with CBC Cork, and Ulster pair Ben Carson and Conor McKee.
Full-back Chris Cosgrave and Naas CBS winger Jamie Osborne, who scored 14 points between them against the French, are set for their second starts of the tournament, as are number 8 and captain Alex Kendellen and Darragh Murray, the newly-announced Connacht Rugby U-18 Player of the Year, and his second row partner Alex Soroka.
Up front, Lee Barron from Leinster Schools Senior Cup champions St. Michael’s College packs down with Ulster props George Saunderson and Oscar Egan, while Kendellen is joined in the back row by Donnacha Byrne and Oisin McCormack, who both impressed during the Connacht U-18s’ Interprovincial title-winning run earlier this season.
Speaking ahead of the England clash, Smyth said: “We’ll treat it as the hardest game and go from there. England had a very good win over Wales (38-20), but we’ll take the positives out of our game and look forward to training and preparing for England. The players have got to enjoy it and they’ve got to enjoy the opportunity and the challenge and just go out and give the best of themselves.
“Once they do that the coaching staff will be proud of them and they can be proud of themselves. This is about learning, enjoyment and pushing themselves to be better players, competing against the best players in other countries at this age-grade.”
IRELAND UNDER-18 SCHOOLS Team & Replacements (v England Under-18s, 2019 Under-18 Six Nations Festival, Sixways Stadium, Worcester, Wednesday, April 17, kick-off 1.40pm):
15. Chris Cosgrave (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
14. Jamie Osborne (Naas CBS/Naas RFC/Leinster)
13. Shane Jennings (Garbally College/Connacht)
12. Ben Carson (Wallace High School/Ulster)
11. Diarmuid Kilcommins (Coláiste Bhaile Chláir/Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
10. Cian Whooley (CBC Cork/Munster)
9. Conor McKee (Sullivan Upper School/Ulster)
1. George Saunderson (Sullivan Upper School/Ulster)
2. Lee Barron (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
3. Oscar Egan (Coleraine Grammar School/Ulster)
4. Alex Soroka (Belvedere College/Leinster)
5. Darragh Murray (Colaiste Chiaráin/Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
6. Donnacha Byrne (Summerhill College/Sligo RFC/Connacht)
7. Oisin McCormack (Garbally College/Connacht)
8. Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork/Munster) (capt)
16. Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy/Ulster)
17. Jack Boyle (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
18. Mark Donnelly (CBC Cork/Munster)
19. Reuben Crothers (Wallace High School/Ulster)
20. Diarmuid McCormack (Clongowes Wood College/Connacht)
21. Will Hickey (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
22. Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray/Leinster)
23. Nathan Doak (Wallace High School/Ulster)
24. Harry O’Riordan (CBC Cork/Munster)
25. Karl Martin (St. Mary’s School Drogheda/Boyne RFC/Leinster)
26. Aaron Leahy (CBC Cork/Munster)
IRELAND UNDER-18 SCHOOLS – U-18 SIX NATIONS FESTIVAL RESULTS/FIXTURES:
Ireland Under-18 Schools 24 France Under-18s 29, Hartpury College, Gloucester
England Under-18s v Ireland Under-18 Schools, Sixways Stadium, Worcester, Wednesday, April 17, 1.40pm
Ireland Under-18 Schools v Scotland Under-18s, Kingsholm, Gloucester, Sunday, April 21, 11.10am