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Under-20 RBS 6 Nations Preview: Ireland U-20s v Wales U-20s

Under-20 RBS 6 Nations Preview: Ireland U-20s v Wales U-20s

What promises to be an electric weekend of international rugby action begins under the Donnybrook floodlights tonight as the Ireland Under-20s begin their U-20 RBS 6 Nations campaign against Wales.

2016 UNDER-20 RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, February 5

IRELAND UNDER-20s v WALES UNDER-20s, Donnybrook, 7.35pm (live RTÉ Two/www.rte.ie/live (island of Ireland only))

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to take on Wales in the opening round of the U-20 RBS 6 Nations has been named. The match, which is sponsored by Electric Ireland, will take place at Donnybrook Stadium on Friday night.

Ireland U-20 head coach Nigel Carolan has named a side that is largely inexperienced at Under-20 level with just three players included from last year’s campaign.

Front rowers Andrew Porter (Leinster), Adam McBurney (Ulster) and Conan O’Donnell (Connacht) return from the 2014/15 campaign and all have experience at ‘A’ level for their provinces. Newly-appointed captain James Ryan will pack down behind them in the second row.

Jacob Stockdale, who is the fourth member of the squad returning from last year, is involved with Ulster in their rescheduled GUINNESS PRO12 game against the Dragons and will join up with the Irish U-20 squad next week.

Click here to buy tickets for all of the Ireland Under-20 three home games. Tickets are priced at €;20 for unreserved seating, €;15 for terrace standing, €;10 for children and €;7.50 for a family (two adults and two children).

Former Ireland star and Under-20 Grand Slam winner Felix Jones on the Electric Ireland matches in Donnybrook:

Meanwhile, Wales Under-20 head coach Jason Strange has named a balanced side with experience and youth for their Championship opener in Dublin.

There are eight uncapped players in the starting line-up, while the likes of Owen Watkin, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard and Tom Phillips, who were all key players in last season’s Wales U-20 side, have also had significant regional game-time this season.

Another regional player, Cardiff Blues out-half Jarrod Evans, starts on the bench on Friday, along with Newport Gwent Dragons prop Leon Brown, demonstrating the strength in depth of the squad in some positions.

Tom Williams has been withdrawn from the squad through injury, while scrum half Reuben Morgan-Williams and prop Robert Lewis have been added.

U-20 RBS 6 Nations Fixtures

IRELAND U-20: Jack Power (UCD/Leinster); Matthew Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster), Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster), Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster); Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster), John Poland (Cork Constitution/Munster); Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster), Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), Conan O’Donnell (Sligo/Connacht), Peter Claffey (Galwegians/Connacht), James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt), Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht), Will Connors (UCD/Leinster), Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster).

Replacements: Shane Fenton (Young Munster/Munster), James Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster), Conor Kenny (Buccaneers/Connacht), Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster), Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht), Brett Connon (Newcastle Falcons/Exile), Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster).

WALES U-20: Rhun Williams (RGC); Elis-Wyn Benham (Cardiff Blues), Harri Millard (Cardiff Blues), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Keelan Giles (Ospreys); Dan Jones (Scarlets), Declan Smith (Scarlets); Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Blues), Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Tom Phillips (Scarlets) (capt), Shaun Evans (Scarlets), Harrison Keddie (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ifan Phillips (Scarlets), Robert Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Leon Brown (Newport Gwent Dragons), Bryce Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Morgan Sieniawski (Cardiff Blues), Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys), Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues), Joe Thomas (Ospreys).

Referee: Thomas Charabas (France)
Assistant Referees: Sébastien Minery, Paul-Henri Courbier (both France)
Television Match Official: Vincent Azoulay (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 2/5; Draw: 16/1; Wales U-20s to win: 11/5

Pre-Match Quotes – Nigel Carolan (Ireland U-20s): “We’ve been training well and the players are integrating nicely. While the majority of the lads taking to the field on Friday are new to this level, many will have benefited from their experiences with the provinces and this has shown in their preparation over the last number of weeks.

“We know that it will be a tough encounter first up but we’re all looking forward to kicking the campaign off on a positive note.

“We played our final home game in Donnybrook last season and the 4G surface makes for a fast-paced game, regardless of the conditions. Dubarry Park was a great home for the Under-20s in recent seasons and we hope to replicate that support in Donnybrook on Friday night.”

Jason Strange (Wales U-20s): “The side is boosted by the regional experience of some of our key players, while the younger players joining the squad have benefited from an international pathway which has seen them progress from Wales Under-18 and the development tour to South Africa over the summer which gives the players a huge amount of confidence and bridges the gap between the two age group.

“We want to play a fast, attacking style of rugby that will pose questions of the opposition and the 4G pitch at Donnybrook will suit that approach.

“Donnybrook is a traditional destination for Welsh rugby fans on a Friday night during international weekends and we hope a good crowd will turn out to support the boys.”

Pre-Match Links –

Felix Jones Backs Ireland U-20s’ Home Matches To Be Electric

‘In Touch’ Digital Magazine Out Now

Match Facts –

– The Ireland Under-20s finished in seventh place in last year’s World Rugby U-20 Championship, while in the Six Nations they won their opening two fixtures but lost their last three

– The Ireland U-20s lost their most recent home game against England at Donnybrook and have only once before lost successive home games at this level (to France and England in 2011) 

– The Wales U-20a were sixth in the World Rugby U-20 Championship in Italy last summer and finished the Six Nations with a won three, lost two record

– The Wales U-20s won in round 4 and 5 in the tournament last year, and have not won three games in a row in the U-20 Six Nations since 2013

– The two sides have met on 13 previous occasions at this level with Wales having the edge by seven wins to five, plus a drawn game

– The Ireland U-20s’ only win with their last five encounters with Wales was 35-21 in Pukekohe, New Zealand in June 2014

Recent Meetings –

2014: U-20 RBS 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 0 Wales U-20s 16, Dubarry Park; IRB Junior World Championship Pool B: Wales U-20s 21 Ireland U-20s 35, ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe

2015: U-20 RBS 6 Nations: Wales U-20s 19 Ireland U-20s 12, Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay; World Rugby U-20 Championship – 5th/8th Place Play-Off: Ireland U-20s 12 Wales U-20s 22, Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, Viadana