The Ireland U20 Squad for the opening rounds of the RBS Six Nations was announced earlier this week and the good news is that six Ulster players have made the cut, our largest representation for some time.
U20’s Coach Nigel Carolan, who also coaches Connacht Academy, has been developing a nice style of play with the U20’s over the past few seasons and it was particularly pleasing that his insistence on making his charges play rugby reaped substantial benefits in last season’s World Rugby U20 Championship.
In fact, these undercard games in the Six Nations are often much more exciting than the main event, without the pomp and ceremony and the hoards of “big match eventers”.
OK, that’s the sales pitch over :-), so let’s get to the Ulster boys involved.
Ulster’s representation includes two forwards and four backs. Up front, we have Belfast Harlequins Peter Cooper at tight head prop and Queen’s Marcus Rea in the back row. Both have featured for Ulster A this season, Cooper as recently as last week against Jersey, however, due to the strange decision to do away with Provincial U20’s squads this season it’s difficult to rate them against their cohorts!
In the backs, we have Queen’s Jonny Stewart at scrum half and ‘Hinch’s Johnny McPhillips at out half. Stewart looks like the real deal at scrum half by all accounts and McPhillips has worked on his defence to become the complete package at out half so, hopefully, we’ll see plenty of this Ulster pairing during series. Both play the style of rugby that Caolan favours. Unsurprisingly, Queen’s Robert Lyttle has also made the cut, most likely to feature at full-back and fellow Queen’s player Rory Butler will be pushing for a start in the centre having featured in the last four Ulster A matches in the B&I Cup.
Regarding the rest of the squad Cillian Gallagher, along with Johnny McPhillips, are the only returnees from last season’s squad so we’ve plenty of new names to get used to. Looking forward to it!
|Paul Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster)||Rory Butler (Queen’s University/Ulster)|
|Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster)||Peadar Collins (Garryowen/Munster)|
|Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster)||Liam Coombes (Garryowen/Munster)|
|Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster)||Conor Dean (St. Mary’s/Leinster)|
|Peter Cooper (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)||Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster)|
|Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)||Colm Hogan (Dublin University/Munster)|
|Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster)||Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)|
|John Foley (Shannon/Munster)||Jack Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster)|
|Cillian Gallagher (Corinthians/Connacht)||Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s/Leinster)|
|Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster)||Jack Lyons (Young Munster/Munster)|
|Sean Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht)||Robert Lyttle (Queen’s University/Ulster)|
|Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne/Leinster)||Johnny McPhillips (Ballynahinch/Ulster)|
|Rory Mulvihill (UCD/Leinster)||Gavin Mullin (UCD/Leinster)|
|Marcus Rea (Queen’s University/Ulster)||Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)|
|Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster)||Tommy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)|
|Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)||Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster)|
Under 20 RBS Six Nations Fixtures
Friday, February 3
Scotland U20 v Ireland U20, Broadwood Stadium, Glasgow, 8.30pm
Friday, February 10
Italy U20 v Ireland U20, Stadio Enrico Chersoni, Prato, 7.00pm local time/6pm Irish time
Friday, February 24
Ireland U20 v France U20, Donnybrook Stadium, 8.00pm
Saturday, March 11
Wales U20 v Ireland U20, Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, 6.30pm
Friday, March 17
Ireland U20 v England U20, Donnybrook Stadium, 6.00pm