There is a feast of international rugby at all levels for Ireland fans to enjoy this weekend, beginning with the cream of the Ulster Bank League taking on the England Counties team at Anglesea Road. Fresh from their Dalriada Cup win, David O’Mahony’s side will be quietly confident of making it two victories on the bounce.
ULSTER BANK CLUB INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Friday, March 18
IRELAND CLUB XV v ENGLAND COUNTIES, Anglesea Road, Old Belvedere RFC, 5.30pm
Team News: The Ireland Club team to play England Counties in the Ulster Bank Club International match at Anglesea Road on Friday shows one change to the side that beat Scotland last weekend.
Cork Constitution’s Gerry Hurley will start at scrum half with Matt D’Arcy of St. Mary’s College named among the replacements.
Hurley will partner Dolphin’s Barry Keeshan in the half-backs. Evan Ryan, now with Clontarf but previously with Cork Constitution, partners Eric Moloney in the centre to increase the Cork influence.
John O’Brien, John Cleary and David Mongan again comprise a potent back-three.
Up front, head coach David O’Mahony has retained the same pack that helped power the Club side to 32-30 victory over the Scottish Clubs last weekend.
The back row of Hugh Hogan, Barry O’Mahony and team captain Frank Cogan may again prove influential as Ireland’s Ulster Bank League stars face a strong England Counties side.
The game kicks off at 5.30pm at Anglesea Road, the home of Old Belvedere RFC, and promises to be a cracking contest.
Ireland beat the England Counties outfit 20-17 at Donnybrook in 2007, the sides drew 13-13 at the same venue in 2009 and last year saw the English claim a 29-25 victory at Stourbridge RFC.
You can pay at the gate on Friday evening – admission is 10 euro for adults and 5 euro for children/OAPs.
Meanwhile, Sam Beaumont, son of former England and British & Irish Lions captain Bill Beaumont, will be adding an England shirt of his own to the extensive family collection when he lines out for the England Counties in Dublin.
Beaumont has already played for the Barbarians and is booked to make another appearance in April, but this will be his first England selection and comes in the same city that his father first pulled on an England senior jersey against Ireland in 1975.
“I’m a bit nervous about the game, but it’s a great feeling and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it,” said the 25-year-old number 8.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a pretty hard game, but I’m really excited and I can’t wait to get going. Obviously my main aim is to play well and help us to get a win. I think the preparation has been very good considering how little time there is.
“The group has come together very well and the training has been quite hard work. Everybody has gelled together well and the work has been fairly sharp, with very few mistakes being made. Let’s hope we can take that into Friday.”
Beaumont is one of nine players who will be making their first starts for the England Counties side. Blaydon hooker Matt Hall is the only survivor from the team that beat their Irish counterparts at Stourbridge last year.
Blackheath’s Dave Allen (2007) and his Barking back row colleague James Kellard (2009) are the only other players to have faced the Irish previously. Of the backs, only full-back and captain Gareth Collins has any previous experience at this level.
IRELAND CLUB XV: John O’Brien (Buccaneers); John Cleary (Galwegians), Eric Moloney (Dolphin), Evan Ryan (Clontarf), David Mongan (Old Belvedere); Barry Keeshan (Dolphin), Gerry Hurley (Cork Constitution); John Ryan (UCC), Richie Sweeney (St. Mary’s College), Christy Condon (Dolphin), Philip Donnellan (UCC), Simon Crawford (Clontarf), Hugh Hogan (St. Mary’s College), Barry O’Mahony (Clontarf), Frank Cogan (Cork Constitution) (capt).
Replacements: Ciaran Kavanagh (Clontarf), Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Liam Og Murphy (Young Munster), Damian Hall (St. Mary’s College), Matt D’Arcy (St. Mary’s College), Alan Kingsley (Young Munster), Stuart Morrow (Ballynahinch).
ENGLAND COUNTIES: Gareth Collins (Leicester Lions) (capt); David Vincent (Barking), Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing Trailfinders), Tom Wheatcroft (Barking), Tom Jarvis (Stourbridge); Dan Mugford (Cambridge), Ben Spencer (Cambridge); Alex Clarke (London Scottish), Matt Hall (Blaydon), Aaron Liffchak (Barking), Steve Pape (Rosslyn Park), Josh Brown (London Scottish), James Kellard (Barking), Dave Allen (Blackheath), Sam Beaumont (Fylde)
Replacements: Dan Lloyd-Jones (Barking), Alex MacKenzie (Barking), James Ngan (Barking), Tom Standfield (London Scottish), Stefan Liebenberg (Old Albanians), Mike Waywell (Fylde), James Stephenson (Blackheath).
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Keane, Ken Beggs (both Ireland)
Pre-Match Links –
Ireland Club XV: Previous Matches –
2006: Ireland Club XV 30 Scotland Club XV 13, Donnybrook
2008: Ireland Club XV 20 Scotland Club XV 15, Donnybrook
2011: Scotland Club XV 30 Ireland Club XV 32, Netherdale, Gala RFC