The Irish U20 Rugby squad for the Guinness Six Nations was announced yesterday in Cork where the team will play their three home matches this campaign against Scotland, Wales and Italy.
Last year’s team won the Grand Slam and seven of that squad are back again in the group for 2020, including captain David McCann from Banbridge and Ulster and vice-captain Thomas Clarkson from Blackrock and Leinster.
Leinster supply 20 players to the squad, with seven from Ulster, five from Munster, four from Connacht and one from the exiles programme.
Coach Noel McNamara is back again and announced his squad at a function in Cork where he was joined by IRFU President Nicky Comyn and Ger O’Mahoney of PwC, who are now in their 15th year as sponsors of the Irish U-20s.
“We are enormously proud to be associated with the Irish U-20s and we’re looking forward to more exciting nights here in Cork,” said O’Mahoney.
“There was a great turnout last year for all the games and hopefully there will be again this year. It feeds into the players to have such great crowds supporting them.”
“The reality and the cyclical nature of the U-20s is it’s very much a one-year programme,” said McNamara.
“It’s a new group. While there are things we will look replicate, the reality is you can’t copy and paste either.”
“Just because something worked for last year’s group it doesn’t necessarily mean it is automatically going to work for this year’s group.”
“It is very much a case of a new year and there are a couple of guys back who will be looking to drive on standards.”
“I think the major developments in Irish rugby will prove to be Abbotstown and the National Sports Campus. We ran a camp there a few weeks ago. Mike Catt is upstairs, he just came down and he’s kicking with Jack Crowley and Tim Corkery and Cathal Forde. Simon Easterby is working with Thomas Ahern and ‘Fogs’ (John Fogarty) is there with the hookers. It just really had a club feel about it. I think that’s a massive plus for Irish rugby, it’s a massive plus for young coaches, for young players, we’ll see that grow and strengthen over the next few weeks as well.”
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Image Credit: Ryan Byrne, Inpho.ie