Ireland Under-20 Men’s head coach Richie Murphy has today confirmed a 31-player squad (sponsored by PwC) for the upcoming 2024 Under-20 Six Nations Championship.
There are five returning players who were involved in last year’s Grand Slam-winning campaign and second place finish at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
Munster second row Evan O’Connell has been chosen as the new Ireland Under-20 captain, ahead of their opening fixture against France at Stade Maurice David on Saturday, February 3 (kick-off 9.10pm local time/8.10pm Irish time).
O’Connell and second row partner Joe Hopes, alongside hooker Danny Sheahan, back rower Brian Gleeson and centre Hugh Gavin, are named in the 2024 Championship squad having featured for Murphy’s side last year.
Ireland open their campaign away in France before back-to-back home matches at Virgin Media Park against Italy on Friday, February 9 (kick-off 7.15pm), and Wales on Friday, February 23 (kick-off 7.15pm).
Murphy’s youngsters will then go head-to-head with England at the Recreation Ground in Bath on Friday, March 8 (kick-off 7.15pm), before concluding the tournament against Scotland in Cork on Friday, March 15 (kick-off 7pm).
The Ireland U-20 squad have been building towards the Six Nations through a series of camps at the IRFU High Performance Centre, while challenge matches against Italy, Munster Development and Leinster Development over the Christmas period have aided preparations.
Speaking at today’s squad announcement and media day at PwC headquarters in Dublin, Murphy also confirmed his coaching staff for the 2024 Championship.
Defence and lineout coach Willie Faloon and scrum and contact coach Aaron Dundon are continuing in their roles, and former Ireland international Ian Keatley has joined the Under-20 set-up as backs coach.
“We have been working hard for a number of weeks and it’s an exciting time for these young players, who have the honour of representing the wider group in the Six Nations,” said Murphy.
“We, as coaches, have pushed the players over the last number of months and I have been impressed by their work-rate, commitment, and application. Now our focus turns to performance and the opening game against France, which we know will be a big challenge first up.
We are looking forward to the opportunities over the coming weeks and are excited by the prospect of an Ireland Under-20 team returning to Six Nations action at Virgin Media Park in Cork, where we always have huge support.”
Enda McDonagh, Managing Partner at PwC Ireland, commented: “At PwC, as we enter our nineteenth year as sponsors of the Ireland Under-20 squad, we are excited about the start of the 2024 U-20 Six Nations Championship.
“As Grand Slam champions for the past two years, we are confident Ireland can keep up the momentum with a strong performance in this year’s Championship.
“The dedication and team-work that the Under-20s show is always exceptional and mirrors our own values at PwC. We wish the team the very best of luck in the upcoming Championship.”
IRFU President Greg Barrett added: “The onset of a Championship is always a hugely exciting time and the Under-20 programme is a very important part of Irish Rugby, with previous squads enjoying tremendous success over the years, including last season’s Grand Slam win and second place finish at the World Rugby U-20 Championship in South Africa.
The players have all worked incredibly hard, supported by coaches, parents, schools, and clubs, to attain this level and they are now about to represent their country in this very prestigious and world-class tournament. I wish them every success in the forthcoming games and know that they will show Irish Rugby at its best.
“To PwC, I thank you again for your ongoing support as sponsors of the Ireland Under-20s. I know that this will be your nineteenth year of this sponsorship which is greatly appreciated and has been a major factor in the development of these squads to be able to compete and be successful at this very high level of competition.”
Tickets for Ireland’s home matches at Virgin Media Park in Cork are available to purchase now via Ticketmaster.ie.
IRELAND UNDER-20 MEN’S Squad (2024 Guinness Under-20 Men’s Six Nations Championship):
Oliver Coffey (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Tadhg Brophy (Naas RFC/Leinster)
Will Wootton (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
Jake O’Riordan (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
Jack Murphy (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Sean Naughton (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
Hugo McLaughlin (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
Ethan Graham (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
Hugh Gavin (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)
Rory Ellerby (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Wilhelm de Klerk (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Finn Treacy (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)
Stephen Kiely (Shannon RFC/Munster)
Ben O’Connor (UCC RFC/Munster)
Alex Usanov (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Ben Howard (Terenure College RFC/Leinster)
Danny Sheahan (Cork Constitution FC/Munster)
Henry Walker (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Stephen Smyth (Old Wesley RFC/Leinster)
Patreece Bell (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
Jacob Boyd (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Andrew Sparrow (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Joe Hopes (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Billy Corrigan (Old Wesley RFC/Leinster)
Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster) (capt)
Alan Spicer (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Bryn Ward (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
Sean Edogbo (UCC RFC/Munster)
Josh Stevens (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Brian Gleeson (Garryowen FC/Munster)
Luke Murphy (Shannon RFC/Munster)
IRELAND UNDER-20 MEN’S SIX NATIONS FIXTURES:
- Saturday, February 3: France v Ireland, Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence, 9.10pm local time/8.10pm Irish time
- Friday, February 9: Ireland v Italy, Virgin Media Park, 7.15pm
- Friday, February 23: Ireland v Wales, Virgin Media Park, 7.15pm
- Friday, March 8: England v Ireland, Recreation Ground, Bath, 7.15pm
- Friday, March 15: Ireland v Scotland, Virgin Media Park, 7pm