U20s begin Interpro Series against Ulster
August 31, 2016 12:00 am client
The Combined Leinster Combined U20s and Development Squad, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, should be just about spot-on to travel to Ulster for the first of the three shots it will take to capture the Inter-Provincial Championship.
The new format has come about as a means of giving much-needed game time to those Academy players in the limbo land that exists between Age Grade rugby and the PRO12 Championship.
It is completely up to each province as to how to approach this. Leinster have committed to staying as close as possible to working under the traditional 20s umbrella.
“What Leinster have done is have an Under-20s-only group over the summer, up to last week when full-back Jack Power and full-back Will Connors were added to the group,” said coach Noel McNamara.
The two Under-20 internationals missed out on Ireland’s ground-breaking journey to the World Cup final in June and, as Year 1 Academy players, they are in a position to take advantage of the game time on offer.
McNamara’s men were taken to France last week where Leinster trained with the Clermont ‘Espoirs’ for two days in preparation for playing Pau for 40 minutes and Clermont for 40 minutes last Friday.
It was a beneficial experience to play against what amounted to a semi-pro Pau, ending 12-7 behind, before responding with a dominant 28-0 half against Clermont.
Leinster went 12-0 down after eight minutes to Pau, the sheer size and power and intensity of the French causing problems. However, Leinster did not concede another score over the combined total of 72 minutes as they grew into the challenges in front of them.
“The intention is to have as many Under-20 guys involved as possible. There will be a couple of guys from the Academy to come into selection,” said McNamara. “
It will be a twofold approach. The players with national 20s aspirations will definitely be there. Then, there can be a case where we pick up injuries and need reinforcements.”
For instance, second row Jack Regan sustained an injury in France and Oisin Dowling has been hurt too. In this scenario, McNamara might have to reach into The Academy due to having a small squad of players.
The prospective Ireland Under-20s include the appointed captain Jack Kelly, at full-back, wing Jordan Larmour, centre Gavin Mullen and out-halfs Conor Dean and Ciaran Frawley, hooker Ronan Kelleher, Regan and Dowling and number eight Caelan Doris.
Leinster will look no further up the road than Ulster at Shaw’s Bridge on Friday evening.
Half-backs Johnny Stewart and Conor McPhillips are an experienced pair and Robert Lyttle, who was sharp for Ulster against Northampton Saints in pre-season, would be a real threat. “They are going to be a stiff test. The reality is it depends on how many Academy players they put in,” warned McNamara.
Munster will be formidable with the latent talent of backs Bill Johnston and Calvin Nash as well as forwards Gavin Coombes and John Foley.
“They are coming into it off the back of winning Interpro titles. They won the U18 Schools for this group. They won the U19s last year and won the U20s last year. They have the form and they should be confident.”
Connacht have had their troubles in putting together a team for this competition with their front row and second row stripped down. Ireland U20 locks Peter Claffey and Cillian Gallagher are currently out injured and Cian Romaine has been absorbed into the senior set-up.
Their match against Munster is in doubt due to the lack of numbers. They could even be forced to pull out of the competition altogether.
Leinster Combined U20 & Development squad Interprovincial fixtures 2016.
2nd September (Friday): Ulster v Leinster U20 (Round 1), Shaw’s Bridge, Time 17.30
8th September (Thursday): Connacht v Leinster U20 (Round 2), Sportsground, Time 15.00
16th September (Friday): Leinster U20 v Munster (Round 3), Donnybrook Stadium, Time 19.00
Leinster U20 Combined & Development squad, sponsored by Bank of Ireland.
15. Jack Kelly (St Michael’s College) Captain
14. Jordan Larmour (St Andrew’s College)
13. Gavin Mullin (Blackrock College)
12. Jimmy O’Brien (UCD RFC)
11. Jack Power (Clontarf FC)
10. Conor Dean (Blackrock College)
9. Charlie Rock (Old Belvedere RFC)
1. Greg McGrath (Lansdowne FC)
2. Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne FC)
3. Óisín Heffernan (Terenure College RFC)
4. Caelan Dorris (Blackrock College)
5. Josh Murphy (UCD RFC)
6. Will Connors (UCD RFC) Vice Captain
7. Barry Fitzpatrick (St Michael’s College)
8. Paul Boyle (Lansdowne FC)
16. Sean McNulty (UCD RFC)
17. Martin Mulhall (Lansdowne FC)
18. Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf FC)
19. Conor Hand (Navan RFC)
20. Ruairí O’Farrell (Lansdowne FC)
21. Ciarán Frawley (Skerries RFC)
22. Conor O’Brien (Clontarf FC)
23. Tim Carroll (UCD RFC)
Reserve Conor Maguire (Old Wesley RFC)
Reserve Steven Kilgallen (Blackrock College)