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Back In Time: Ireland Under-20s Pull Off Historic New Zealand Scalp

Four years ago today, the Ireland Under-20s – coached by Nigel Carolan and led by the outstanding James Ryan – made history at the World Rugby U20 Championship in rain-soaked Manchester as they became the first Ireland Men’s international team to defeat New Zealand, emulating the feat of the Ireland Women and their indelible win over the Black Ferns in 2014.

Carolan’s Class of 2016, buttressed by future internationals Ryan, Max Deegan, Andrew Porter and Jacob Stockdale in the starting XV, sensationally defeated the defending U20 World Champions at the Academy Stadium, pulling off a major coup en route to the top of Pool A and the tournament final.

It was a landmark day for Irish Rugby as Adam McBurney, Greg Jones and Deegan all crossed during the 33-24 win, while influential out-half Bill Johnston kicked 10 points and replacement Johnny McPhillips came off the bench to add eight points from the tee to see Ireland across the line.

“It’s the stuff of dreams, the moments you dream about in games where you have to score, you need to score, and to do that is honestly unbelievable. I can’t put it into words what it means, luckily enough I was able to pick up and went over,” Deegan, who was named Player of the Tournament, said after the game.

“It’s something special (to beat Wales and New Zealand back-to-back). In camp we knew we had it in us and were building well. There is a buzz in the camp and that is going to continue, but we have to take a step back now and focus on Georgia.”

You can read the IrishRugby.ie match report here, while below we take a look back at that memorable day through the lens of Inpho.

NEW ZEALAND U-20: Jordan Trainor (Waikato/Blues); Shaun Stevenson (Waikato/Chiefs), Patelesio Tomkinson (Otago/Highlanders), Jordie Barrett (Canterbury), Malo Tuitama (Wellington); Stephen Perofeta (Taranaki), Sam Nock (Northland/Blues); Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Leni Apisai (Wellington/Hurricanes) (capt), Sosefo Kautai (Waikato), Quinten Strange (Tasman), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington), Luke Jacobson (Waikato), Mitchell Jacobson (Waikato), Marino Mikaele-Tu’u (Hawke’s Bay).

Replacements used: TJ Va’a (Wellington/Hurricanes) for Perofeta (42 mins), Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay) for Tomkinson (51), Asafo Aumua (Wellington) for Apisai, Alex Fidow (Wellington) for Kautai (both 59), Sean Paranihi (Canterbury) for Johnstone (67), Hamish Dalzell (Canterbury) for Walker-Leawere (70), Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manakau) for Nock (71). Not used: Dalton Papali’i (Auckland).

IRELAND U-20: Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Matthew Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster), Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster); Bill Johnston (Garryowen/Munster), Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht); Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster), Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), Ben Betts (Young Munster/Munster), Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht), James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt), Greg Jones (UCD/Leinster), David Aspil (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster).

Replacements used: Vincent O’Brien (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Aspil (20 mins, temp sub), Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) for C O’Brien (27-34, blood sub), Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster) for Johnston (37), Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf/Leinster) for Betts, J O’Brien for C O’Brien, V O’Brien for McBurney (all 63), Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster) for Aspil (64), Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster) for Gallagher (76). Not used: James Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster), Niall Saunders (Epsom College/Exiles).