An Emerging Ireland squad will play three fixtures in the Toyota Challenge hosted in Bloemfontein, South Africa this coming autumn.
The Emerging Ireland squad will be led by Simon Easterby, with other national team coaches, Paul O’Connell, Mike Catt and John Fogarty, supporting.
The 35-player squad will play three Currie Cup sides across a nine-day period – the Windhoek Draught Griquas (Friday, September 30), the Airlink Pumas (Wednesday, October 5) and the Toyota Cheetahs (Sunday, October 9). All fixtures will take place at Toyota Stadium, the home of the Cheetahs.
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented: “This opportunity presented itself quite late but the drawn Series against the Māori All Blacks in July highlighted the value of exposing less experienced players to the rigours of an international set-up and the benefit that can be garnered from a challenging touring environment and exposure to the national coaching group.
“This tournament will provide a significant development opportunity for a group of talented young players.”
Emerging Ireland head coach Easterby added:
The growth we witnessed in the less experienced players in New Zealand over the four weeks was incredible to see.
“The two Māori fixtures were invaluable in broadening our talent pool ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023, and the coaching group see this as another opportunity to increase the depth of talent available to the national squad ahead of the World Cup in France and beyond.”
The national coaching team will utilise this window to replicate the demands of the senior environment with the aim of accelerating the development of the Emerging Ireland group, which will feature a host of players who have stood out at Ireland Under-20 level over the past few seasons.
2022 TOYOTA CHALLENGE – EMERGING IRELAND MATCHES:
Friday, September 30
Windhoek Draught Griquas v Emerging Ireland
Kick-off 1.45pm local time/12.45pm Irish time
Wednesday, October 5
Airlink Pumas v Emerging Ireland
Kick-off 5pm local time/4pm Irish time
Sunday, October 9
Toyota Cheetahs v Emerging Ireland
Kick-off 1pm local time/12pm Irish time