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World Rugby Tbilisi Cup Preview: Emerging Ireland v Emerging Italy

World Rugby Tbilisi Cup Preview: Emerging Ireland v Emerging Italy

Emerging Ireland, who won the Nations Cup last summer, will compete in the World Rugby Tbilisi Cup for the second time in three years. Coached by Allen Clarke and Girvan Dempsey, they face Emerging Italy in the opening round in Georgia.


EMERGING IRELAND v EMERGING ITALY, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time (Georgian live stream)

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Team News: Emerging Ireland coaches Allen Clarke and Girvan Dempsey have named their team for Saturday’s World Rugby Tbilisi Cup opening round clash with Emerging Italy.

There were two late call-ups to the Emerging Ireland squad this week with Jack Conan and Andrew Browne replacing Eoin McKeon and Lewis Stevenson respectively.

Conan starts the tournament opener at number 8 and is joined in an all-Leinster back row by squad captain Rhys Ruddock at blindside flanker with Dan Leavy at openside. Ruddock is one of three senior internationals in the side along with front rowers Rob Herring and Stephen Archer.

The second row is made up of recent Connacht signing Ben Marshall and Billy Holland, while the front row consists of Herring, Archer and Denis Buckley, a member of this year’s PRO12 Dream Team.

Luke McGrath (pictured below) partners JJ Hanrahan at half-back with Stuart McCloskey and Eoin Griffin combining in the centre. The back-three consists of Andrew Conway and Matt Healy on the wings with Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.

The selected bench includes reserve forwards Dave Heffernan, Andrew Warwick, Finlay Bealham, Browne and Eoghan Masterson, while John Cooney, Rory Scannell and Peter Nelson are the back-line options.

Ulsterman Clarke commented: “In the short period we have been together we have had a very positive response from the players. The game against Emerging Italy provides an opportunity for these players to illustrate to us how well they have prepared and their ability to cope within this challenging environment.”

Emerging Ireland will play Uruguay in their second game of the tournament next Wednesday before taking on hosts Georgia in the final round on Sunday week. Both Uruguay and Georgia will compete in this year’s Rugby World Cup.

All of the 2015 Tbilisi Cup matches will be streamed live online here via the Georgian Rugby Union website.

Meanwhile, five-times capped centre Roberto Quartaroli is the only senior international in an Emerging Italy side dominated by domestic based players. Quartaroli, the former Aironi and Zebre player, was capped by the Azzurri between 2009 and 2012.

The selected Italian squad include four players from reigning national league champions Cammi Calvisano, and some notable club combinations – Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma half-backs Carlo Canna and Simone Marinaro, an all-Petrarca Padova front row, and Viadana duo Federico Ruzza and Filippo Gerosa pair up in the second row.

Head coach Umberto Casellato knows his players will be up against it in their opening match in Georgia. “Emerging Ireland are a high calibre team, coming from a large base of players who play PRO12 and European rugby. It’s vital that we have a good lineout, a good scrum and we can’t afford any defensive lapses,” he said.

2015 World Rugby Tbilisi Cup – Ticket Details

EMERGING IRELAND: Tiernan O’Halloran (Buccaneers/Connacht); Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster), Eoin Griffin (London Irish), Stuart McCloskey (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Matt Healy (Lansdowne/Connacht); JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster); Denis Buckley (Corinthians/Connacht), Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster), Ben Marshall (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt), Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster).

Replacements: Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht), Andrew Warwick (Ballymena/Ulster), Finlay Bealham (Corinthians/Connacht), Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht), Eoghan Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht), John Cooney (Terenure College/Connacht), Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Peter Nelson (Malone/Ulster).

EMERGING ITALY: Alberto Chiesa (Cammi Calvisano) (capt); Filippo Guarducci (Marchiol Mogliano), Roberto Quartaroli (Rugby Viadana 1970), Giovanni Massaro (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Gabriele di Giulio (Cammi Calvisano); Carlo Canna (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Simone Marinaro (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma); Federico Zani (Petrarca Padova), Luca Bigi (Petrarca Padova), George Iacob (Petrarca Padova), Federico Ruzza (Rugby Viadana 1970), Filippo Gerosa (Rugby Viadana 1970), Matteo Corazzi (Marchiol Mogliano), Emiliano Caffini (Femi CZ Rugby Rovigo Delta), Maxime Mbanda’ (Cammi Calvisano).

Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre Rugby), Giuseppe di Stefano (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Pietro Ceccarelli (Macon Rugby), Alessio Zdrilich (Cammi Calvisano), Mirko Amenta (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Simone Parisotto (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Giovanni Benvenuti (Marchiol Mogliano), Sebastian Negri (Hartpury RFC).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli, Tornike Gvirjishvili (both Georgia)

Pre-Match Quotes: Allen Clarke (Emerging Ireland) – “The tournament has been very profitable in determining the future of young men into the professional ranks and indeed the senior team. We have been together for a week and the squad has gelled together pretty well.

“Our purpose is two-fold. In the short term there are a number of players who will be putting their hands up for the World Cup squad, a number of positions have been kept open, with a number of players looking to break into that squad. In the longer term we are looking at the development of all the players against good opposition.”

Umberto Casellato (Emerging Italy) – “This is our second time in Tbilisi and the squad are looking forward to the tournament. We have brought a young squad made up of players playing in the domestic league in Italy. The tournament will act as a development tool for these young players and allow them a chance to grow into international rugby with an eye on the 2019 Rugby World Cup.”


2013 – IRB Tbilisi Cup (Runners-Up): Georgia 15 Emerging Ireland 20, Avchala Stadium; Emerging Ireland 8 South Africa President’s XV 19, Avchala Stadium; Uruguay 33 Emerging Ireland 42, Avchala Stadium

2014 – IRB Nations Cup (Champions): Emerging Ireland 66 Russia 0, Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf; Emerging Ireland 51 Uruguay 3, Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf; Romania 10 Emerging Ireland 31, Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf


Saturday, June 13 –

Emerging Italy v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time
Georgia v Uruguay, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time

Wednesday, June 17 –

Uruguay v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time
Georgia v Emerging Italy, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time

Sunday, June 21 –

Uruguay v Emerging Italy, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time
Georgia v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time/4pm Irish time