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Ireland U-20s To Field New Front Row Against Wales

Ireland U-20s To Field New Front Row Against Wales

The Ireland Under-20s (sponsored by PwC) return to U-20 Six Nations action in Cork on Friday night ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Head coach Richie Murphy has made four changes to the Ireland Under-20 Men’s team (sponsored by PwC) for Friday’s U-20 Six Nations match against Wales at Virgin Media Park (kick-off 7.15pm).

The Ireland Under-20s opened their 2024 campaign with wins over France (37-31) and Italy (23-22), and following a down week, Murphy’s young side return to action in Cork this Friday night.

Buy tickets for Ireland U-20s v Wales U-20s in Cork!

Murphy has selected an unchanged back-line for the RTÉ 2-televised clash, with Ben O’Connor, a try-scoring player-of-the-match last time out, Finn Treacy, and Hugo McLaughlin making up the back-three.

Wilhelm de Klerk and Hugh Gavin continue their partnership in midfield for the third game running, while Jack Murphy, who has kicked 25 points so far, and Oliver Coffey are retained at half-back.

Ben Howard from Terenure College, Ulster Academy hooker Henry Walker, and IQ Rugby recruit Patreece Bell come in for their first starts in a new front row combination. All three have appeared as replacements during the previous rounds.

The experienced Joe Hopes moves to the second row to partner Evan O’Connell, where they last started together against Fiji during last summer’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship in South Africa.

After scoring the match-winning try against Italy earlier this month, Sean Edogbo earns his first start at blindside flanker, with Bryn Ward continuing at openside, and Shannon’s Luke Murphy featuring again at number 8.

Murphy has strong options among the replacements bench as Danny SheahanAlex UsanovJacob BoydBilly Corrigan, and the uncapped Tom Brigg provide the reinforcements up front, with backs Tadhg BrophySean Naughton and Davy Colbert, another potential debutant, completing the matchday 23.

Commenting on the selection process and the scrum, Ireland U-20 assistant coach Aaron Dundon said: “When we got back from the World Cup last year, one of things in debriefing was that we didn’t use our squad enough.

“So, we are trying to build a bit more depth in our squad, freshen it up and give a few (players) who are training well an opportunity.

“We are still building our scrum. I thought it was okay against France (in the first game of the Championship), but we struggled a bit against the Italians.

“It’s just giving guys an opportunity and seeing what strengths they can bring. Wales did alright in the scrum against Scotland but struggled against England. We are expecting a tough battle.”

IRELAND UNDER-20 MEN’S Team & Replacements (v Wales Under-20s, 2024 Under-20 Six Nations Championship – Round 3, Virgin Media Park, Friday, February 23, kick-off 7.15pm):

15. Ben O’Connor (UCC RFC/Munster)
14. Finn Treacy (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)
13. Wilhelm de Klerk (UCD RFC/Leinster)
12. Hugh Gavin (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)
11. Hugo McLaughlin (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
10. Jack Murphy (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
9. Oliver Coffey (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
1. Ben Howard (Terenure College RFC/Leinster)
2. Henry Walker (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
3. Patreece Bell (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
4. Joe Hopes (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
5. Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster) (capt)
6. Sean Edogbo (UCC RFC/Munster)
7. Bryn Ward (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
8. Luke Murphy (Shannon RFC/Munster)


16. Danny Sheahan (Cork Constitution FC/Munster)
17. Alex Usanov (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
18. Jacob Boyd (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
19. Billy Corrigan (Old Wesley RFC/Leinster)
20. Tom Brigg (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster) *
21. Tadhg Brophy (Naas RFC/Leinster)
22. Sean Naughton (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
23. Davy Colbert (Dublin University FC/Leinster) *

* Denotes uncapped player at this level