Ireland can rise to challeng

Ireland begin their quest for Junior World Cup glory in Auckland on Monday, facing an onerous task against Six Nations champions France (QBE Stadium, 6.35am, Irish time, TG4).

Ireland can rise to challeng

The French and Welsh defeated Mike Ruddock’s men during the spring, and both are in Ireland’s group in New Zealand, as are Fiji. Rather than bemoan bad fortune, Ruddock views the pairings as a perfect opportunity to atone for their disappointments earlier in the season.

“We put ourselves in a position to win that game in France. We missed a crucial penalty with eight minutes to go and that could have changed the complexion of the game,” he said. “We have taken on board the necessity to work on certain aspects of our game and the national group of coaches, Joe [Schmidt], Les [Kiss] and Greg [Feek] have come in and spent a bit of time working on improvements.

“Basically, our one on one tackle work has benefited and our scrum has improved.”

Ruddock has also freshened up the squad and, despite the loss through injury of his skipper, Connacht lock Sean O’Brien, he believes it is a stronger group now. And he warned his opponents: “When we get the ball we play good rugby, and if we can manage to get quality ball at ruck time – which we are capable off – we’ll be very dangerous opponents for anyone.”

IRELAND U20 v France, JWC2014 Pool B, Monday, Auckland: C Kelleher (Leinster), C Gaffney (Connacht)*, G Ringrose (Leinster), D Goggin (Munster), I Fitzpatrick (Leinster), R Byrne (Leinster), N McCarthy (Leinster); P Dooley (Leinster), M Abbott (Munster), C Trenier (Leinster)*, S Gardiner (Leinster), R Molony (Leinster), P Timmins (Leinster), F Taggart (Ulster), J O’Donoghue (Munster, capt).

Replacements: D Donnellan (Leinster)*, D Coulson (Leinster), R Burke (Munster), D Moloney (Munster)*, D Dee (Munster)*, R Foley (Munster)*, C McKeon (Leinster), B Dardis (Leinster)*.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox