The Ireland Under-20s have played some scintillating rugby in South Africa in recent weeks, and will be hoping to extend their winning run by beating France in an intriguing battle for fifth place.
2012 IRB JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: 5TH-6TH PLACE PLAY-OFF: Friday, June 22
IRELAND U-20s v FRANCE U-20s, Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, 2.15pm local time/1.15pm Irish time (live TG4)
Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to face France in their final match of the IRB Junior World Championship at Newlands Stadium on Friday has been named.
Irish head coach Mike Ruddock has named an unchanged team, keeping faith with the 15 players who started the 5th-8th place play-off victory over England in their last outing.
Tries from Barry Daly, Iain Henderson and Jordan Coghlan, allied to 12 points from IRB Junior Player of the Year nominee JJ Hanrahan, steered Ireland past the Six Nations champions on a 27-12 scoreline.
Ruddock’s charges will be bidding to make it two wins out of two against France in 2012, having beaten them in Grenoble in a hard-fought game during the Six Nations.
Ireland are guaranteed their best ever finish at an IRB Junior World Championship. If they win on Friday, they will claim fifth spot – a jump of three positions from last year’s tournament.
Speaking ahead of the clash at Newlands Stadium, Ruddock said: “We are expecting another tough game against France, particularly as we defeated them in the Six Nations earlier in the year.
“They will be gunning for revenge. We have done our homework and hopefully our legs will carry us through another important victory.”
The much-anticipated game will be shown live on TG4, and there will be a match report and reaction here on IrishRugby.ie afterwards.
Meanwhile, the France team shows seven changes in personnel to the side that started their 5-8th place play-off victory over Australia last Sunday.
There are three newcomers in the back-line in the form of full-back Theo Platon, centre Jonathan Danty and out-half Thomas Laranjeira. Vincent Martin and Bastien Fuster have reverted to wing berths.
Perpignan’s Pascal Cotet is the only survivor in the front row, while his club-mate Pierre Gayraud has joined Paul Jedrasiak in the second row.
The back row, led by number 8 and captain Karl Chateau from Toulouse, has been bolstered by the return of Montpellier’s Kelian Galletier at openside flanker.
The French finished second in Pool C, a single point behind beaten semi-finalists Argentina. Coached by Gérald Bastide and Didier Retiere, they beat Scotland (30-29) and Australia (31-7) in the pool stages, and also overcame their Australian counterparts 19-17 in a play-off clash.
IRELAND U-20: Peter Nelson (Dungannon/Ulster); Barry Daly (UCD/Leinster), Stuart Olding (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Chris Farrell (Dungannon/Ulster), Foster Horan (Lansdowne/Leinster); JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht); Des Merrey (Clontarf/Leinster), Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) (capt), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Alan O’Connor (UCD/Leinster), Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster), Jordan Coghlan (UCD/Leinster), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
Replacements: James Rael (Garryowen/Munster), Peter Reilly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jake Cawley (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Shane Buckley (Garryowen/Munster), Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster), Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht), Conor Finn (Buccaneers/Connacht).
FRANCE U-20: Theo Platon (Biarritz Olympique); Vincent Martin (Toulon), Jonathan Danty (Stade Francais), Gael Fickou (Toulon), Bastien Fuster (Bayonne); Thomas Laranjeira (Brive), Eric Escande (Montpellier); Jefferson Poirot (Brive), Jean-Charles Fidinde (Clermont Auvergne), Pascal Cotet (Perpignan), Pierre Gayraud (Perpignan), Paul Jedrasiak (Clermont Auvergne), Julien Kazubek (Clermont Auvergne), Kelian Galletier (Montpellier), Karl Chateau (Toulouse) (capt).
Replacements: Raphael Carbou (Perpignan), Jean-Baptiste Custoja (Perpignan), Khatchik Vartanov (Racing Metro 92), Johan Aliouat (Toulon), Etienne Quiniou (Dax), Enzo Selponi (Montpellier), Jimmy Yobo (Aurillac), Alexandre Derrien (Bourgoin).
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman, Rasta Rashivenga (both South Africa)
Television Match Official: Clayton Thomas (Wales)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 10/11; Draw: 18/1; France U-20s to win: 10/11
Pre-Match Quotes: Niall Scannell (Ireland U-20s) – “We have had a good tournament to date, although we are obviously disappointed we didn’t make the semi-finals. However, we are looking forward to taking on France and we all want to finish in as high a position as possible.
“France will bring a different mix of physicality and flair. We know it is going to be tough challenge, but we are a competitive team and we are going all out for a victory.
“We had our first visit to Newlands today. It is a brilliant stadium, the pitch is in perfect condition, and everyone is looking forward to the occasion.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2010: RBS U-20 6 Nations: France U-20s 20 Ireland U-20s 15, Stade de la Chevaliere, Mazamet; IRB Junior World Championship Pool B: Ireland U-20s 22 France U-20s 25, Estadio El Coloso del Parque, Rosario
2011: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 13 Ireland U-20s 38, Dubarry Park
2012: RBS U-20 6 Nations: France U-20s 12 Ireland U-20s 13, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble