After three pool matches in Vannes, the Ireland Under-20s have moved base to Les Sables-d’Olonne for the IRB Junior World Championship play-offs. A win over host nation France tonight would give them a shot at finishing fifth overall next Sunday.
2013 IRB JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: 5TH/8TH PLACE PLAY-OFF: Tuesday, June 18
FRANCE U-20s v IRELAND U-20s, Stade Henri Desgrange, La Roche-sur-Yon, 8.15pm local time/7.15pm Irish time
Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to face tournament hosts France in Tuesday’s 5th-8th place play-off at the IRB Junior World Championship has been named.
Head coach Mike Ruddock has made five personnel changes to the side that lost out 31-26 to New Zealand in their final pool game of the tournament.
Rory Scholes takes up the full-back position while Ireland Under-20 debutant Alex Wootton makes his first start of the tournament, joining Darren Sweetnam on the wing. Darragh Leader and Adam Byrne are the players to make way.
Up front Bryan Byrne starts at hooker in place of George McGuigan, with Sean McCarthy coming in for Gavin Thornbury in the second row where he partners John Donnan.
Ryan Murphy returns at number 8 in a rejigged back row that sees Conor Joyce revert to blindside flanker, the position filled last time out by Daniel Leavy who is currently nursing a knock.
This is Ireland’s second encounter of the season with France. Ruddock’s charges beat them 22-5 at Dubarry Park in March, and the winners of Tuesday’s game will face either Argentina or Australia in the 5th-6th place play-off on Sunday.
Meanwhile, France head coach Didier Retiere, backed up by team manager Fabien Pelous, has made nine changes to the side that lost 26-19 to semi-finalists South Africa last Thursday.
Biarritz full-back Teddy Thomas and Enzo Selponi, the 20-year-old out-half who played at last year’s tournament in South Africa, are the only survivors in the back-line as Maxime Wieprecht, William Thomas, Florian Vialelle, Francois Bouvier and scrum half Baptiste Serin all earn call-ups.
Hooker Romain Ruffenach, second row Johan Aliouat and back rowers Francois Cros and Mathieu Babillot are the new inclusions up front.
Les Bleuets lost two of their games in Pool B, going down to England (30-6) in their opener before beating the USA 45-3 with Wieprecht, Cros and captain Paul Jedrasiak among their six try scorers that night.
Ruffenach scored an early try when France visited Athlone in the spring, but a Conor Joyce try and 17 points from the boot of Tom Daly, whose Junior World Championship was ended by a hand injury, saw Ireland prevail.
FRANCE U-20: Teddy Thomas (Biarritz Olympique); Maxime Wieprecht (Clermont Auvergne), Florian Vialelle (Castres Olympique), Francois Bouvier (Toulouse), William Thomas (Toulouse); Enzo Selponi (Montpellier), Baptiste Serin (Bordeaux-Begles); Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Romain Ruffenach (Biarritz Olympique), Khatchik Vartanov (Racing Metro 92), Paul Jedrasiak (Clermont Auvergne) (capt), Johan Aliouat (Montpellier), Yacouba Camara (Massy Essonne), Francois Cros (Toulouse), Mathieu Babillot (Castres Olympique).
Replacements: Romain Hollet (Perpignan), Alexis Valette (Racing Metro 92), Oleg Ishchenko (Montpellier), Leo Bastien (Agen), Alban Placines (Biarritz Olympique), Bastien Duhalde (Bayonne), Julien Heriteau (Agen), Stephen Parez (Racing Metro 92).
IRELAND U-20: Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Darren Sweetnam (UCC/Munster), Thomas Farrell (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Alex Wootton (Northampton Saints/Exile); Steve Crosbie (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) (capt); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), Bryan Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Christopher Taylor (Malone/Ulster), Sean McCarthy (Shannon/Munster), John Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Conor Joyce (Malone/Ulster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Ryan Murphy (Dolphin/Munster).
Replacements: George McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons/Exile), Edward Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Adam Boland (Lansdowne/Connacht), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster), David Shanahan (Clontarf/Leinster), Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Connacht), David Panter (Corinthians/Connacht).
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Christophe Mallet (France)
Pre-Match Quotes: Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s) – “We went toe to toe with (New Zealand) one of the best age-grade teams traditionally in world rugby, who usually run amok and batter teams. They didn’t batter us.
“In fact they were very, very pleased to get out of that one with a result. You could tell from their body language and the way they celebrated at the end.
“But our boys won’t dwell too much on that. We’ve put a game-plan together for France and that is the next task, that’s all that matters.
“We’ve beaten them in the Six Nations and we know how tough it will be, but the boys are anxious to move on to the next challenge. I’m expecting them to get on with that.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2011: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 13 France U-20s 38, Dubarry Park
2013: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 22 France U-20s 5, Dubarry Park