Jump to main content


Junior World Championship Preview: Ireland Under-20s v Fiji Under-20s

Junior World Championship Preview: Ireland Under-20s v Fiji Under-20s

The Ireland Under-20s will bid to make it two wins out of two at the IRB Junior World Championship in Vannes, France later today, with Mike Ruddock’s youngsters facing a Fijian side that lost 59-6 to New Zealand in the opening round.


IRELAND U-20s v FIJI U-20s, Stade de la Rabine, Vannes, 6.45pm local time/5.45pm Irish time (live TG4/Sky Sports 4/HD4)

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to play Fiji in the second round of pool games at the IRB Junior World Championship on Sunday has been named.

Head coach Mike Ruddock has made 11 personnel changes to the team that overcame Australia 19-15 in their opening game of the tournament on Wednesday.

Try scorer Rory Scholes, goal-kicker Tom Daly and out-half Steve Crosbie are the three survivors in the back-line, with blindside flanker Conor Joyce retaining his place and captaining the side in the absence of Luke McGrath.

Connacht’s Darragh Leader has been named at full-back with ex-Cork hurler Darren Sweetnam and Scholes completing the back-three.

Mark Roche joins his Lansdowne club-mate Daly in the centre, while Clontarf scrum half David Shanahan will make his full debut at Under-20 level.

Twins Edward and Bryan Byrne are also set for their first starts of the campaign in an all-new front row alongside Christopher Taylor. Gavin Thornbury and Sean McCarthy, a nephew of former Ireland captain Mick Galwey, make up the second row pairing.

Daniel Leavy, an impressive replacement against the Australians, and Jack O’Donoghue – the last of the five players not involved in the Six Nations to see Junior World Championship action – link up with Joyce in the back row.

Sunday evening’s game between Ireland and Fiji will be broadcast live on TG4 and Sky Sports 4. The Fijians are hoping to bounce back from a 59-6 loss to New Zealand in their tournament opener.

Fijian boss Bill Gadolo has made six personnel changes to the side that went down to the Baby Blacks, including two enforced switches as centre Sevanaia Galala and lock Viliame Rarasea are both suspended.

Galala will miss the rest of the Championship after being banned for six wees for a dangerous high tackle, while Rarasea was hit with a two-week suspension for a ‘stiff arm’ challenge during the New Zealand game.

Prop Joji Ravula, lock Kemueli Tokalau and flanker Laijaisa Bolenaivalu are the three changes up front, while behind the scrum Timilai Rokoduru moves to full-back, Mosese Qionimacawa comes in on the right wing and Akuila Tabualevu and Peceli Tuisese will start at inside centre and out-half respectively.

The France-based Galala and Rarasea, who plays in New Zealand, are big losses for the Islanders, but Peceli Yato, Dylan Bower, Zachery Lee and Joshua King also boast overseas experience.

Fiji have five players back from last year’s Junior World Championship squad – Galala, lock and captain Esikia Macu, prop Sunia Tamani and back-three players Rokoduru and Elia Ratucove.

IRELAND U-20: Darragh Leader (Galwegians/Connacht); Darren Sweetnam (UCC/Munster), Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Connacht), Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Steve Crosbie (Old Belvedere/Leinster), David Shanahan (Clontarf/Leinster); Edward Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Bryan Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Christopher Taylor (Malone/Ulster), Gavin Thornbury (UCD/Leinster), Sean McCarthy (Shannon/Munster), Conor Joyce (Malone/Ulster) (capt), Daniel Leavy (UCD/Leinster), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster).

Replacements: George McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons/Exile), Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ryan Furniss (Worcester Warriors/Exile), John Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster), Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), David Panter (Corinthians/Connacht).

FIJI U-20: Timilai Rokoduru; Mosese Qionimacawa, Nasoni Kunavore, Akuila Tabualevu, Elia Ratucove; Peceli Tuisese, Emori Waqa; Joji Ravula, Tunai Vatubua, Mesake Doge, Esikia Macu (capt), Kemueli Tokalau, Laijaisa Bolenaivalu, Jone Baleidau, Peceli Yato.

Replacements: Penaia Cakobau, Zachery Lee, Aseri Robarobalevu, Sailasa Kerekere, Marika Vunibaka, Dylan Bower, Joeli Douglas, Joshua King.

Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Christophe Dutreuilh (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 1/80; Draw: 50/1; Fiji U-20s to win: 14/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s) – “We want to build on a big win against Australia with a top performance against Fiji.

“We have freshened the side up quite a bit, the heat and physicality of the Australian game combined with a four-day turnaround means we have to use all our resources to raise our performance.”

Tom Daly (Ireland U-20s) – “I suppose we have spoken a little bit (about what happened last June when the 2012 side lost their second game of the tournament to England).

“Last year they had two big teams up first, this time it’s a little different as we have Fiji in the middle which could be a bit of an advantage for us. We really want to get out the group this time, we have put ourselves in prime position to do that with that win over Australia.

“I think a bonus point is going to be very important against Fiji. With New Zealand next it is going to be a very big challenge.

“We want to get a win obviously but I think we need a bonus point to make sure we are in prime position to qualify out of this group, probably the toughest group in the tournament. We know we have to do a job against Fiji, they could be a banana skin, we need the win and also the bonus point.”

Pre-Match Links –

Ireland Keen To Avoid Repeat Of Day Two Blues

Inspired Ireland Edge Out Australia In Thriller

In Pics: Ireland Under-20s 19 Australia Under-20s 15

Ruddock And McGrath Savour Historic Win For Under-20s

2013 IRB Junior World Championship

Tournament Profiles –


Seeding for 2013 JWC: Fifth
Best finish: Fifth (2012)
Worst finish: Ninth (2008, 2010)

JWC match record: Played 25 / Won 12 / Lost 13
JWC points/tries scored: 591 / 61

JWC graduates: 10
Most -capped JWC graduate: Conor Murray (19 matches)

Did you know? – In 2010, Ireland Under-20 captain Rhys Ruddock became the only player to be called away from a Junior World Championship to join up with the Ireland senior squad. He duly made his debut against the Wallabies.

Head coach: Mike Ruddock
Captain: Luke McGrath

One to watch: Tom Daly
England fans will not forget his name after he held his nerve to kick a late match-winning conversion against the defending champions in the Six Nations earlier this year.

A powerful – and tall at 6ft 4in – centre, Daly is a constant threat to opposing defences and his partnership in the middle, with either Thomas Farrell, Rory Scannell or Mark Roche, could be the catalyst for the back-line to spark into life and set them on the road to causing another upset


Seeding for 2013 JWC 2013: 11
Best finish: Sixth (2011)
Worst finish: Fourteenth (2008 – when 16 teams in tournament)

JWC match record: Played 25 / Won 7 / Lost 18
JWC points/tries scored: 443 / 52

JWC graduates: 8
Most capped JWC graduates: Nikola Matawalu and Waisea Nailago (9 matches)

Head coach: Bill Gadolo
Captain: Esikia Macu

One to watch: Marika Vunibaka
If natural talent runs in a family then Marika Vunibaka will be one to watch, his uncle of the same having starred for Fiji at both the 15-a-side game and Sevens, winning two of the three Rugby World Cup Sevens he played at.

This Vunibaka plays in the back row not on the wing, but could be one to watch around the breakdown if a gap appears. 

Support the Ireland U-20s on www.irishrugby.ie/facebook or search #IrlU20s and #JWC2013 on www.twitter.com/irfurugby.