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Ireland U-20 Men To Face England In World Championship Semi-Final

Ireland U-20 Men To Face England In World Championship Semi-Final

Back rower Bryn Ward is pictured on the charge during the Ireland Under-20 Men's Six Nations draw with England in Bath back in March ©INPHO/James Crombie

The Ireland Under-20 Men’s team (sponsored by PwC) will return to Cape Town’s DHL Stadium on Sunday to play England in a mouth-watering World Rugby U-20 Championship semi-final (kick-off 3.30pm – live on RugbyPass TV).

Confirmation of the semi-final match-ups came following a weather-disrupted final day of the pool phase, which saw Ireland’s clash with Australia cancelled due to an unplayable pitch at the Athlone Sports Stadium.

As per the tournament rules, both teams received two competition points so Willie Faloon’s side finished top of Pool B with 11 points in total, followed by Australia, in second place, on eight points.

The Ireland U-20s advanced to the semi-final stage as third seeds, and will renew rivalries with England, the Pool C winners (14 points). New Zealand are the top seeds and will play defending champions France, who came through as Pool A runners-up.

Something will have to give this weekend as both Ireland and England are unbeaten in competitive matches this year. A last-gasp converted try from Luke Murphy saw Ireland draw 32-all with their English counterparts in Bath back in March.

England were crowned U-20 Six Nations champions after edging out Ireland by a single point in the final table, but it is the Irish young guns who have won six of the last 10 meetings.

Hugh Gavin and Brian Gleeson, who are both part of the current squad, scored a brace of tries each when Ireland won 36-24 in Cork to clinch their 2023 U-20 Six Nations Grand Slam.

The teams’ last two encounters have resulted in draws, with Ireland scoring six tries to England’s four during last summer’s 34-all draw in Paarl at the start of the 2023 World Rugby U-20 Championship.

Gavin, Gleeson, and current Ireland captain Evan O’Connell played in that game, and there were also some cracking tries when the sides finished level at the Recreation Ground most recently. Ireland’s starting back-three (Finn Treacy, Ben O’Connor, and Hugo McLaughlin) scored one each.

Faloon’s charges gained experience of the DHL Stadium during their runaway 55-15 victory over Italy almost two weeks ago.

All three of England’s pool matches were played at the Athlone Sports Stadium where they accounted for Argentina (40-21), Fiji (48-11), and hosts South Africa (17-12). They are the tournament’s joint-top try scorers so far with 17, level with New Zealand.

In terms of past World Rugby U-20 Championship play-off ties, England were 42-15 winners of the 2014 semi-final – Garry Ringrose, Ross Byrne, and Jack O’Donoghue were involved for Ireland – and they won the 2016 title thanks to a 45-21 triumph on home soil.

Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, and Jimmy O’Brien, who are in South Africa at the moment with the Ireland senior squad, all lined out against the England U-20s eight years ago, along with Hugo Keenan, who is bound for the Olympics with the Ireland Men’s Sevens team.

The Ireland and England U-20s have a habit of producing high-scoring contests, and the last three sides to win this fixture have all scored 36 or more points on the day.

During Richie Murphy’s successful reign, Ireland won 42-27 and 37-36 in the 2022 U-20 Six Nations and World Rugby U-20 Championship respectively, and came out on top (36-24) last year to complete a senior and U-20 Grand Slam double.