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Ireland U-20s Set To Return To Western Cape For 2024 World U-20 Championship

Ireland U-20s Set To Return To Western Cape For 2024 World U-20 Championship

Ireland Under-20 Men's captain Evan O'Connell is pictured with his team-mates during last week's 37-31 U-20 Six Nations win over France in Aix-en-Provence ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The Ireland Under-20s’ summer schedule has been confirmed, with World Rugby today unveiling details of this season’s World Rugby U-20 Championship which will be held again in South Africa.

With South Africa hosting back-to-back U-20 Championships, this year’s tournament will be played over five match days – between June 29 and July 19 – in the Western Cape regions of Stellenbosch and Cape Town.

The world’s best 12 nations have been placed in three pools of four, and the Ireland U-20s (sponsored by PwC) are joined in Pool B by Australia, Georgia, and Six Nations rivals Italy.

Richie Murphy’s youngsters finished as runners-up to France at last summer’s U-20 Championship, having beaten Australia 30-10 in Paarl on the way to topping their pool. They also overcame hosts South Africa at the semi-final stage.

Current captain Evan O’Connell, Brian Gleeson, Danny Sheahan, Hugh Gavin, and Joe Hopes are the five returning players from 2023. They all played their part in Ireland making a winning start to their U-20 Six Nations title defence in France last Saturday.

Number 8 Gleeson was a try-scoring player-of-the-match when Murphy’s charges got the better of the Junior Wallabies last June. Georgia, who finished eighth overall, claimed victories over Argentina (20-0) and Italy (30-17) at the 2023 event.

Ireland have had three previous U-20 Championship clashes with the Georgians, with two wins and a defeat. They beat the Junior Lelos 35-7 on the way to a runners-up finish in 2016, when James Ryan was captain. A sluggish start saw the 2018 team lose 24-20 in the pool stages.

Meanwhile, Ireland have not played Italy in the U-20 Championship since 2019 when current senior international Ryan Baird was one of the try scorers in a 38-17 pool triumph in Santa Fe.

The Azzurrini are one of the Ireland U-20s’ most frequent opponents, as the sides also have an annual warm-up fixture in December. Following their bonus point success in Provence, O’Connell and his team-mates host Italy at Virgin Media Park this Friday night – tickets are available to buy here.

The other pools for the World Rugby U-20 Championship have tournament debutants Spain in Pool A alongside defending champions France, New Zealand, and Wales, while host nation South Africa, England, Argentina, and Fiji make up Pool C.

Danie Craven Stadium, Athlone Stadium, and Cape Town Stadium are the three match venues. The top four-ranked teams at the end of the pool phase will advance to the semi-finals. The final will be played at Cape Town Stadium on Friday, July 19.

World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, commented: “The Under-20 pathway is at the heart of our ambition to develop competitiveness globally. Since their inception in 2008, the World Rugby U-20 Championship and Trophy have provided exciting opportunities for the future stars of the game to express their talents and develop before reaching Test level, as well as a compelling spectacle for anyone interested in our game.

“South Africa and Scotland will be fantastic hosts (of the respective U-20 Championship and Trophy tournaments this summer) and provide ideal conditions for the 20 best U-20 teams in the world to perform.

“I would like to thank our two member Unions for taking up the hosting challenge. I’m convinced many of the talented young players featuring in these competitions will leave their mark, not only on these two tournaments but also on international rugby later down the line.”

SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer said South Africa is looking forward to welcoming back the world’s best young players in the beautiful city of Cape Town, adding: “We have a proud history of successfully staging world-class events and we are extremely proud to be hosting the World Rugby U-20 Championship for a second successive year in the Western Cape.

“Despite the challenging weather we experienced at times during last year’s successful tournament, our enthusiastic rugby supporters truly showed their passion for the game and eagerness to see the world’s best young players in action by turning out in numbers in Stellenbosch and Cape Town.”


POOL A: France (1), Wales (6), New Zealand (7), Spain (12)

POOL B: Ireland (2), Australia (5), Georgia (8), Italy (11)

POOL C: South Africa (3), England (4), Argentina (9), Fiji (10)

* Rankings based on last year’s placings (Spain won the 2023 U-20 Trophy)

Match Day 1: Saturday, June 29

Match Day 2: Thursday, July 4

Match Day 3: Tuesday, July 9

Match Day 4: Sunday, July 14 (Semi-finals and play-off matches)

Match Day 5: Friday, July 19 (Final and ranking matches)

For more information on the World Rugby U-20 Championship, click here.