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Ireland U-18 Men’s Sevens Side Advance To Strasbourg’s Last-Four

Ireland U-18 Men’s Sevens Side Advance To Strasbourg’s Last-Four

Ireland U-18 Men’s Sevens Side Advance To Strasbourg’s Last-Four

Jack Deegan broke through for a brace of tries during Ireland's Pool B success against Germany in Strasbourg ©Travis Prior/Rugby Europe

The Ireland Under-18 Men’s Sevens team strung together back-to-back wins in Strasbourg today to book their Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship semi-final place.

Captained by Hamish Milhench, one of four IQ Rugby players in the squad, the Ireland U-18s topped Pool B courtesy of a 28-0 victory over Germany. Conall Cournane, Jack Deegan (2), and Freddie Bracken-Smith (pictured below) shared out the tries.

A rain-hit day two led to some scrappy encounters on the pitch, but Ireland head coach Kieran Hurrell and assistant coach Michael Hodge would have been pleased with the manner of the 19-7 quarter-final triumph over Belgium.

Kilkenny College’s Ivor Fenton crossed for the match-winning try, adding to an earlier Daragh O’Dwyer effort and a penalty try. Spain will be their semi-final opponents tomorrow at 11.12am Irish time (live on Rugby Europe’s YouTube channel).

Hurrell’s youngsters quickly got into their rhythm against Germany, despite the difficult handling conditions. Johnny O’Sullivan raided up into the German 22, before Cournane used a quick tap to touch down inside the opening minute.

O’Dwyer converted and then hung up an inviting restart kick which the influential Nathan Bottomley tapped back. When play shifted out to the left, Deegan used a neat sidestep to slice through for a second converted try.

Shortly afterwards, Laois youngster Deegan displayed his pace and power to score from deep inside the Irish 22. He used scrum possession to slip away from four defenders and score to the left of the posts, despite Bela Sindermann’s committed chase.

A fourth Irish try, finished off by O’Dwyer, was ruled out for an infringement during the build-up, as Deegan was sin-binned for what was deemed to be a no-arms tackle. Eoin Conlon also saw yellow for being caught offside from a German penalty.

Nonetheless, scrum half Cournane was quick off the mark to make two try-saving tackles as a shorthanded Ireland saw out the first half with a 21-0 lead.

The vast majority of a stop-start second period was played inside the German half. Bracken-Smith came off the bench to score a late fourth try, snapping up an offload that had gone to ground following a strong Conlon carry, and Billy Blair’s initial pick-up in the previous phase.

The day’s penultimate Cup quarter-final was played under an unrelenting rain shower, and Ireland’s first attacking flurry was well defended by Belgium who won a turnover penalty through Henri Atkinson.

With Ireland keeping them pinned back, Belgian captain Mylo Bouckaert elected to launch a kick chase, but his kick cannoned off Conlon’s head, and the quick-reacting O’Dwyer managed to ground the loose ball just beside the posts.

The Gonaza College representative converted his own try, and was crowded out for a second score in the right corner. Bottomley had done well during the build-up, opening up the defence on the opposite wing with a powerful run.

Mauro Dragonetti’s pacy break from deep saw him reeled in by Cournane, only for Johnny O’Sullivan to bring down Atkinson, a phase later, with a tip tackle. The match officials singled out the wrong player, and Conlon was sin-binned.

Belgium used their numerical advantage to make it seven points apiece, with Thomas Nelis scoring on the right and Bouckaert converting. The newly-introduced Bracken-Smith helped to cleverly wind down the clock for Conlon’s return just before the interval.

The slippery ball led to an exchange of knock-ons, early in the second half, before Bracken-Smith went quickly from a penalty inside the Belgian 22, sniping toward the line and earning a penalty try.

Ireland’s progress through to the last-four was confirmed late on when Fenton crossed in the right corner. The full team got hands on the ball to set up the clinching score, including initial offloads from Bracken-Smith, Conlon, and Michael O’Sullivan.

You can follow the action on the Rugby Europe website here.

IRELAND UNDER-18 MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2024 Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship, Strasbourg Alsace Rugby, Strasbourg, France, Friday, July 5-Sunday, July 7, 2024):

1. Hamish Milhench (Dulwich College/Harlequins/IQ Rugby) (capt)
2. Ivor Fenton (Kilkenny College/Leinster)
3. Eoin Conlon (CBS Mullingar/Mullingar RFC/Leinster)
4. Conall Cournane (Coláiste na Sceilge/Iveragh Eagles RFC/Munster)
5. Daragh O’Dwyer (Gonzaga College/Leinster)
6. Jack Deegan (Cistercian College Roscrea/Athy RFC/Leinster)
7. Johnny O’Sullivan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
8. Michael O’Sullivan (Blackrock College/Iveragh Eagles RFC/Munster)
9. Cal Traynor Russell (CBC Monkstown/Leinster)
10. Freddie Bracken-Smith (Eton College/Saracens/IQ Rugby)
11. Nathan Bottomley (St. Paul’s School, London/IQ Rugby)
12. Billy Blair (St. Joseph’s College, Sydney/IQ Rugby)
13. Daniel Ryan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)

IRELAND U-18 MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship, Strasbourg, France:

Friday, July 5 –


IRELAND 38 ROMANIA 0, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Johnny O’Sullivan 3, Michael O’Sullivan, Jack Deegan, Nathan Bottomley; Cons: Daragh O’Dwyer, Jack Deegan, Conall Cournane, Nathan Bottomley
Romania: –
HT: Ireland 24 Romania 0

Team: Hamish Milhench (capt), Eoin Conlon, Michael O’Sullivan, Conall Cournane, Daragh O’Dwyer, Jack Deegan, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Nathan Bottomley, Ivor Fenton, Freddie Bracken-Smith, Cal Traynor Russell, Billy Blair.

IRELAND 0 LITHUANIA 24, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: –
Lithuania: Tries: Justas Grigalaitis, Alanas Aleksanian, Mindaugas Alekna; Cons: Ignas Keraminas 2
HT: Ireland 0 Lithuania 19

Team: Cal Traynor Russell, Nathan Bottomley, Michael O’Sullivan, Freddie Bracken-Smith, Daragh O’Dwyer, Ivor Fenton, Billy Blair.

Replacements used: Hamish Milhench (capt), Johnny O’Sullivan, Eoin Conlon, Jack Deegan, Conall Cournane.

Day 1 Round-Up: O’Sullivan Hat-Trick The Highlight For Ireland U-18 Men’s Sevens Team

Saturday, July 6 –


IRELAND 26 GERMANY 0, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Conall Cournane, Jack Deegan 2, Freddie Bracken-Smith; Cons: Daragh O’Dwyer 3
Germany: –
HT: Ireland 21 Germany 0

Team: Eoin Conlon, Nathan Bottomley, Hamish Milhench (capt), Conall Cournane, Daragh O’Dwyer, Jack Deegan, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Michael O’Sullivan, Freddie Bracken-Smith, Billy Blair. Not used: Ivor Fenton, Cal Traynor Russell.


IRELAND 19 BELGIUM 7, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Daragh O’Dwyer, Penalty try, Ivor Fenton; Cons: Daragh O’Dwyer, Pen try con
Belgium: Try: Thomas Nelis; Con: Mylo Bouckaert
HT: Ireland 0 Belgium 7

Team: Eoin Conlon, Nathan Bottomley, Hamish Milhench (capt), Conall Cournane, Daragh O’Dwyer, Ivor Fenton, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Freddie Bracken-Smith, Michael O’Sullivan, Cal Traynor Russell. Not used: Billy Blair.

Sunday, July 7 –


SPAIN v IRELAND, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, 12.12pm local time/11.12am Irish time (live on Rugby Europe YouTube channel)