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Junior World Championship Semi-Final Preview: England Under-20s v Ireland Under-20s

Junior World Championship Semi-Final Preview: England Under-20s v Ireland Under-20s

Defending champions England stand in the way of the Ireland Under-20s and a prized place in the final of the IRB Junior World Championship. Mike Ruddock’s youngsters are chasing their third successive win of the tournament in New Zealand.


ENGLAND UNDER-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, QBE Stadium, Auckland, 5.05pm local time/6.05am Irish time (live TG4/full repeat, 11.50am/highlights, 7.15pm)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to face England in the semi-finals of the IRB Junior World Championship on Sunday has been named.

Head coach Mike Ruddock had made three changes to the side that overcame Fiji 38-0 to finish top of Pool B and qualify for Ireland’s first JWC semi-final.

Nick McCarthy returns at scrum half with Ryan Foley dropping back to the bench, while Peadar Timmins and Frankie Taggart are restored to the back row with Josh Murphy and Rory Moloney making way.

Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated game, Ruddock said: “England, the current World champions, are our next opponents and it doesn’t get any bigger than that. They will be confident after beating us in the Six Nations, but we have improved since then. Nothing less than our ‘A game’ will do.”

Sunday’s semi-final showdown will be broadcast live on TG4 (kick-off 5.05pm local time/6.05am Irish time), with coverage also available on Sky Sports 2 HD and the www.irb.com live stream.

To listen to a preview interview with Ireland captain Jack O’Donoghue, click here.

Meanwhile, there are 11 changes to the England team that edged out Argentina 17-16 in their final outing in Pool A.

Head coach Nick Walshe rested some of his players for that match and influential lock Maro Itoje, who captains the side instead of the benched Callum Braley, is one of the returnees.

Wingers Howard Packman and Nathan Earle, centre Harry Sloan and half-backs Billy Burns and Henry Taylor resume in a much-changed back-line.

The front row that started against Australia is back in – Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Tom Woolstencroft and Paul Hill – with Itoje and flankers Ross Moriarty and Gus Jones the other changes up front.

England were three from three in the pool stages with wins against Italy, Australia and Argentina and will be hoping to reach their third final in four years.

IRB Junior World Championship Fixtures/Results

ENGLAND U-20: Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues); Howard Packman (Northampton Saints), Nick Tompkins (Saracens), Harry Sloan (Harlequins), Nathan Earle (Saracens); Billy Burns (Gloucester), Henry Taylor (Loughborough University); Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints), Tom Woolstencroft (Bath), Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie), Maro Itoje (Saracens) (capt), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Gus Jones (London Wasps), James Chisholm (Harlequins).

Replacements: Jack Walker (Leeds Carnegie), Alex Lundberg (London Wasps), Harry Rudkin (Leicester Tigers), Hayden Thompson-Stringer (Saracens), Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs), Callum Braley (Bristol), Sam Olver (Northampton Saints), Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers).

IRELAND U-20: Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster), Alex Wootton (Garryowen/Munster); Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Nick McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), Max Abbott (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rory Burke (Cork Constitution/Munster), Stephen Gardiner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ross Molony (UCD/Leinster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt).

Replacements: Dylan Donnellan (UCD/Leinster), Denis Coulson (Lansdowne/Leinster), Oisin Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Darragh Moloney (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rory Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht), Ryan Foley (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conor McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster), Harrison Brewer (Terenure College/Leinster).

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Alexandre Ruiz (France), Akihisa Aso (Japan)
Television Match Official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): England U-20s to win: 1/8; Draw: 30/1; Ireland U-20s to win: 4/1

Pre-Match Quotes – Jack O’Donoghue (Ireland U-20s): “The mood is good in camp. Everyone is really excited for Sunday and they just can’t wait to get on the pitch and express themselves.

“It’s a great honour to captain my country and to get to a semi-final like this is just a dream come true. Hopefully we can do Ireland proud and move on to the final.

“England have a big physical pack but hopefully we can match them up front. It is going to be a ‘blow for blow’ match, I think, and defence is going to be key.

“We made a few silly mistakes in the Six Nations so we’ve worked on that. We’ve had a few (Ireland) senior coaches come in and help us out on our defence and attack, so I think we’re in a good place for Sunday.”

Maro Itoje (England U-20s): “It’s a huge game for us and one we’re really looking forward to. We played Ireland in the Six Nations so we know that they’re a strong side – we’ve got a lot of respect for them.

“We know that we’re going to have to perform if we want to get anything out of the game. As a group we are close, it’s been a massive squad effort that’s got us this far and we need to keep that momentum going into Sunday.”

Pre-Match Links –

Ireland U-20 Games Available To Watch On TG4 Player

Video Highlights: Ireland Under-20s’ Victory Over Fiji

In Pics: Ireland Under-20s 38 Fiji Under-20s 0

England Confirmed As Semi-Final Opponents

IRB – Quartet ‘Motivated’ To Reach Juniors Final

Recent Meetings –

2012: RBS U-20 6 Nations: England U-20s 20 Ireland U-20s 9, Adams Park; IRB Junior World Championship – Pool B: England U-20s 20 Ireland U-20s 15, Danie Craven Stadium; IRB Junior World Championship – 5th-8th Place Play-Off: Ireland U-20s 27 England U-20s 12, UWC Stadium

2013: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 16 England U-20s 15, Dubarry Park

2014: RBS U-20 6 Nations: England U-20s 33 Ireland U-20s 9, Franklin’s Gardens