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World Rugby Tbilisi Cup Preview: Emerging Ireland v Uruguay

World Rugby Tbilisi Cup Preview: Emerging Ireland v Uruguay

Emerging Ireland return to Avchala Stadium for the second round of the World Rugby Tbilisi Cup, aiming to make it two wins out of two against Rugby World Cup-bound Uruguay.


EMERGING IRELAND (1st) v URUGUAY (3rd), Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time (Georgian live stream)

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Team News: Coaches Allen Clarke and Girvan Dempsey have made 10 changes to the Emerging Ireland team for their round 2 match against Uruguay at the World Rugby Tbilisi Cup in Georgia.

Just Eoin Griffin, Matt Healy, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland and captain Rhys Ruddock are retained from the side that started the tournament with a 25-0 victory over Emerging Italy last Saturday.

Ruddock is joined in the back row by Frankie Taggart at openside flanker and Eoghan Masterson at number 8. Holland is partnered in the second row by Andrew Browne, with James Cronin and Dave Heffernan coming into the front row alongside Archer.

John Cooney and Rory Scannell get the opportunity to impress as the starting half-backs, while Noel Reid links up with Griffin in the centre. Peter Nelson and Cian Kelleher start in the back-three alongside Healy.

The 20-year-old Kelleher and Scannell (21) are the youngest members of a back-line that has an average age of 23, while there are four senior internationals selected to start – Ruddock, Cronin, Archer and Reid.

Rob Herring, Denis Buckley, Andrew Warwick, Ben Marshall, Dan Leavy, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath and JJ Hanrahan provide cover from the bench.

* In a late switch, Munster’s Andrew Conway, who played in the opening win over Emerging Italy, replaces Healy in the starting line-up after the Connacht winger was ruled out with a stomach bug.

Clarke commented: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the citizens of Tbilisi. We have luckily been unaffected by the adverse weather conditions and we are thankful to the Georgian Rugby Union for their hospitality and consideration during what is undoubtedly a very difficult and upsetting time.”

Looking ahead to the clash with Uruguay, he added: “This game offers a further opportunity for those within the squad to show that they can compete at this level. Although there were some positives from opening fixture, there were also a number of areas that we know we will need to improve to keep progressing in this tournament.”

Uruguay lost their opening fixture of the Tbilisi Cup to hosts Georgia 19-10. The South Americans will play in Pool A at the Rugby World Cup, competing with England, Australia, Wales and Fiji. Emerging Ireland will meet Georgia in the final round of the Tbilisi Cup on Sunday.

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

Meanwhile, Uruguay boss Pablo Lemoine has rotated his squad with 11 changes made to the team that lost 19-10 to the Georgians in the first round. Los Teros had chances to win that game and will be determined to bounce back.

Backs Agustin Ormaechea, Santiago Gibernau, Joaquín Prada and Leandro Leivas are the only players retained in the starting line-up, with winger Leivas captaining the side as second row Santiago Vilaseca is benched.

Centre Prada kicked a lone penalty when the Uruguayans lost 51-3 to Emerging Ireland during last year’s Nations Cup in Bucharest, while they fared better at the 2013 Tbilisi Cup, notching five tries in a high-scoring 42-33 defeat by the Irish outfit.

Round 2 of the Tbilisi Cup comes just days after devastating floods tore through the Georgian capital claiming lives and washing away people’s homes. The Achvala Stadium lies 14 kilometres to the north of the area adjacent to the River Vere and has not been affected in any way.

As a mark of respect for those that died as a result of flooding in Tbilisi this week and the six Irish students that lost their lives in California, both Emerging Ireland and Uruguay will observe a minute’s silence at the start of the game. The Emerging Ireland players and management team will wear black armbands as a sign of respect.

2015 World Rugby Tbilisi Cup – Ticket Details

EMERGING IRELAND: Peter Nelson (Malone/Ulster); Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster), Eoin Griffin (London Irish), Noel Reid (Clontarf/Leinster), Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster); Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), John Cooney (Terenure College/Connacht); James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster), Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster), Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht), Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt), Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Eoghan Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht).

Replacements: Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Denis Buckley (Corinthians/Connacht), Andrew Warwick (Ballymena/Ulster), Ben Marshall (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster).

URUGUAY: Jerónimo Etcheverry; Leandro Leivas (capt), Joaquín Prada, Andrés Vilaseca, Santiago Gibernau; Alejo Durán, Agustín Ormaechea; Mateo Sanguinetti, German Kessler, Carlos Arboleya, Franco Lamanna, Mathias Palomeque, Agustin Alonso, Diego Magno, Alejandro Nieto.

Replacements: Nicolás Klappenbach, Mario Sagario, Alejo Corral, Santiago Vilaseca, Fernando Bascou, Mathias Braun, Manuel Blengio, Alberto Román.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Shota Tevzadze, Sulkhan Chikhladze (both Georgia)

Pre-Match Quotes: Rhys Ruddock (Emerging Ireland) – “Happy with the result (against Emerging Italy). To get the win kind of settled us and happy to get the clean sheet – the defence is something we pride ourselves on, that was probably the main positive.

“After looking at the game, we realised that we were inaccurate and probably could have put a couple more scores on the board if we stuck to what we worked on during the week.

“I played against Uruguay here two years ago. Just the intensity they bring to the tackle area and the tackle in general is something that we probably didn’t experience against the Italians. I think the breakdown, especially, will be up a couple of gears from what we experienced on Saturday.

“We’ve prepared for it well, we understand the challenge that presents itself. It’s just about making sure mentally we’re in the right place to deal with it.”

Audio: Rhys Ruddock Previews Emerging Ireland v Uruguay

Pablo Lemoine (Uruguay) – “It is going to be a tough game for us, Ireland play a faster game than Georgia so we will have to be very focused in defence. It is great to be playing a side with so many good players as we prepare for the World Cup.

“It will be a good experience for our players. We have made changes to rotate the squad and allow all players some match time as they try to win a place in the World Cup squad.”


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

2015 – World Rugby Tbilisi Cup: Emerging Ireland 25 Emerging Italy 0, Avchala Stadium


Saturday, June 13 –

Emerging Italy 0 Emerging Ireland 25, Avchala Stadium

Georgia 19 Uruguay 10, Avchala Stadium

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