We have an indepth look at the two teams ahead of this afternoon’s 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship 7th Place Final match. Kick off is at 13:00 in Argentina, 17:00 in UK/IRE.

The match should be streamed live for those of us in the UK and will also be shown on EIR Sports.

Why is this match important?

Both the teams are playing for pride, plus the final rankings will determine their pool draw for next season. The main driver in this game will be that both teams will feel they have underperformed in this tournament. 

New Zealand, who have won this tournament six times, have never finished lower than 5th. 

Ireland, who won the Grand Slam in the 2019 Six Nations, will be disappointed to now be finishing behind European rivals France, Wales and England. 

It’s a tournament that tests squad depth and squad management to the fullest and neither side will be happy with how they have managed this competition.  

What happened last time they met. 

The teams have met twice in this tournament in recent years. 

Ireland won their Pool game 33 – 24 in 2016 in their memorable run to the final of that championship, held in Manchester. That match featured three Ulster players, Adam McBurney, Jacob Stockdale and Johnny McPhillips. 

However, they were turned over something shocking the following year in Georgia with New Zealand winning that pool game 69 – 3 on their way to winning the championship. It was particularly disappointing as TeamFRU were sharing our hotel with the New Zealand captains parents! The match also featured three Ulster players, Jack Regan, Jonny Stewart and Marcus Rea. 

Will that match have any effect on this one.

While there are no players in either squad involved in their previous meeting it’s still might have some effect. It was quite a beating and there are still members of the management team involved in the Ireland set up. 

Ireland’s 2016 win is the only time they have beaten New Zealand in seven meetings at this level. Their 69 – 3 defeat in 2017 is Ireland’s biggest ever loss against any team. 

It may be difficult for Ireland to park that history for this game. However,  it does give the Irish side a chance to add to their records this season, a win against New Zealand would sit nicely alongside their Grand Slam. 

The two squads for this afternoon’s game, according to their released team sheets, are as follows. 

1 Josh Wycherley Young Munster 1 Oliver Norris Waikato
2 Dylan Tierney-Martin Corinthians 2 Shilo Klein Canterbury
3 Thomas Clarkson Dublin University 3 Fletcher Newell Canterbury
4 Charlie Ryan (Capt.) UCD 4 Cullen Grace Canterbury
5 Thomas Ahern Shannon 5 Tupou Va’ai Taranaki
6 Ryan Baird Trinity College 6 Kaylum Boshier (Capt.) Taranaki
7 Ronan Watters St Mary’s College 7 Jeriah Mua Bay of Plenty
8 Brian Deeny Clontarf 8 Simon Parker Waikato
9 Craig Casey Shannon 9 Taufa Funaki Auckland
10 Jake Flannery Cork Constitution 10 Rivez Reihana Auckland
11 Rob Russell Dublin University 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku Tasman
12 Cormac Foley St Mary’s College 12 Quinn Tupaea Waikato
13 Liam Turner Dublin University 13 Billy Proctor Wellington
14 Angus Kernohan QUB 14 Etene Nanai-Seturo Counties Manukau
15 Max O’Reilly Dublin University 15 Cole Forbes Bay of Plenty
16 Declan Adamson Clontarf  
17 Michael Milne UCD 17 Rob Cobb Auckland
18 Charlie Ward Clontarf 18 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa Wellington
19 John McKee Old Belvedere 19 Tamaiti Williams Canterbury
20 Niall Murray Connacht 20 Taine Plumtree Wellington
21 Luke Clohessy Shannon  
22 Azur Allison Ballymena 22 James Thompson Waikato
  23 Kohan Herbert Bay of Plenty
24 Colm Reilly Buccaneers 24 Leroy Carter Bay of Plenty
25 Ben Healy Garryowen 25 Fergus Burke Canterbury
26 Jonathan Wren Cork Constitution 26 Dallas Mcleod Canterbury
27 David Ryan UCD 27 Chay Fihaki Canterbury
28 Aaron O’Sullivan UCD  

Irish player stats

The stats for the Irish Players in this competition to date are shown below. 

15 Max O’Reilly Dublin University Leinster 1 4 0 0
14 Angus Kernohan Queen’s University Ulster 4 231 0 0
13 Liam Turner Dublin University Leinster 4 320 0 0
12 Cormac Foley St Mary’s College Leinster 2 92 1 5
11 Rob Russell Dublin University Leinster 2 136 1 5
10 Jake Flannery Shannon Munster 4 316 1 14
9 Craig Casey Shannon Munster 3 220 1 5
1 Josh Wycherley Young Munster Munster 4 207 0 0
2 Dylan Tierney-Martin Corinthians Connacht 4 232 0 0
3 Tom Clarkson Dublin University Leinster 4 234 0 0
4 Charlie Ryan UCD Leinster 4 279 0 0
5 Thomas Ahern Shannon Munster 2 112 0 0
6 Ryan Baird Dublin University Leinster 4 254 1 5
7 Ronan Watters St Mary’s College Leinster 3 153 0 0
8 Brian Deeny Clontarf Leinster 1 20 1 5
16 Declan Adamson Clontarf Leinster 3 24 0 0
17 Michael Milne UCD Leinster 4 157 1 5
18 Charlie Ward Clontarf Leinster 2 42 0 0
19 John McKee Old Belvedere Leinster 2 71 0 0
20 Niall Murray Buccaneers Connacht 4 101 0 0
21 Luke Clohessy Shannon Munster 2 22 0 0
22 Azur Allison Ballymena Ulster 3 164 1 5
24 Colm Reilly Buccaneers Connacht 2 100 0 0
25 Ben Healy Garryowen Munster 4 215 1 41
26 Jonathan Wren Cork Constitution Munster 4 272 1 5
27 David Ryan UCD Leinster 2 84 0 0
28 Aaron O’Sullivan UCD Leinster 1 40 0 0

What are the key areas?

At this stage of the competition it is fitness that will be key.

Looking at their last couple of outings the teams appear to be fairly evenly matched and both have lost players to injuries as is the norm for this competition. 

Ireland’s infusion of fresh blood in the form of Deeny at 8 and O’Reilly at 15 may help and certainly Deeny’s inclusion in the back row, at the expense of  Ballymena’s Azur Allison may be the key with Allison having the ability to build on a big 60 minute performance from Deeny. 

Who is going to win?

It is one of those games that could easily go either way, both in terms of who actually wins and by what margin. 

Both teams have suffered from injuries throughout the competition as is expected from this attritional tournament. However, New Zealand tend to be focusing more on their execution and I get the feeling from Ireland that they tend to be focusing on their injuries, but maybe that’s just because I read more about Ireland. 

Having said that, I still think that Ireland have a slight edge and it may all come down to the boots of Ireland’s Flannery and Healy (should he come on) who have the best kicking records in the competition.