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Ireland U20’s have completed their most successful U20 Six Nations campaign ever, picking up their first ever Grand Slam and their second ever outright Championship title.

They recorded their highest ever points scored, at 150 points, and though they have conceded less points over the years their total points conceded of  92 against is their lowest over the last four years showing, almost halfing lat seasons total of 182 points against.

The team scored 18 tries, 15 of which were converted, giving a conversion rate of 83%. A further 20% of their points came from penalties, with 10 penalties landed throughout the tournament.

Head coach, Noel McNamara named a total of 33 different players in his match day squads. However, four of those players were unused throughout the tournament resulting in 29 players receiving caps.

Minutes played

McNamara made few changes to his starting side and there were few tactical substitutions. A core of 19 players accounted for 94% of the total match time which is extraordinarily high in this modern abrasive game.

Two players Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution) and Liam Turner (Dublin University) played every minute of every game and a further, four Charlie Ryan (UCD), John Hodnett (UCD), Tom Clarkson (Dublin University) and Scott Penny (UCD) each missed less than fifteen minutes in total over the five games.

Ulster were represented by Angus Kernoghan (Queen’s University), Callum Reid (Banbridge) and David McCann (Banbridge). Iwan Hughes (Ballynahinch) was in the squad for the last game against Wales but didn’t get any game time.

The complete list of all the individual minutes played can be viewed by clicking below.

Ireland U20 - minutes played by player
PLAYERCLUBPROVINCEMINS
Jonathan WrenCork ConstitutionMunster400
Liam TurnerDublin UniversityLeinster400
Charlie RyanUCDLeinster398
John HodnettUCDMunster390
Tom ClarksonDublin UniversityLeinster389
Scott PennyUCDLeinster387
Martin MoloneyOld BelvedereLeinster380
Jake FlanneryShannonMunster377
Josh WycherleyYoung MunsterMunster331
Dylan Tierney-MartinCorinthiansConnacht329
Niall MurrayBuccaneersConnacht325
Angus KernohanQueen’s UniversityUlster233
Harry ByrneLansdowneLeinster231
Craig CaseyShannonMunster216
David HawkshawClontarfLeinster208
Sean FrenchCork ConstitutionMunster192
Cormac FoleySt Mary’s CollegeLeinster154
Ben HealyGarryowenMunster150
Conor PhilipsYoung MunsterMunster144
Rob RussellDublin UniversityLeinster65
Ryan BairdDublin UniversityLeinster59
John McKeeOld BelvedereLeinster55
Callum ReidBanbridgeUlster53
Colm ReillyBuccaneersConnacht30
David McCannBanbridgeUlster27
Michael MilneUCDLeinster26
Brian DeeneyClontarfLeinster17
Billy ScannellYoung MunsterMunster16
Ronan WattersSt Mary’s CollegeLeinster8
Iwan HughesBallynahinchUlster0
James McCarthyUL BohemianMunster0
Luke MastersShannonMunster0
Ryan LomasGalwegiansConnacht0

There were a total of 14 Clubs represented with UCD having the highest representation, with over 20% of the minutes on the pitch taken by UCD players.

The minutes on the pitch by club is shown below.

From an Ulster perspective the club representation is quite low with players from only Queen’s University and Banbridge getting game time.

Looking at the provinces as a whole we get the following.

The Ulster representation is the lowest it’s been in the Six Nations for four years and it’s a disappointing level of involvement given the number of players named in the original training squad. It’s quite a slump from the 26% representation that Ulster had last season. Generally Ulster’s involvement does tend to rise over the U20 World Championship, when more players are realeased, but it’s difficult to see who, if any, have been held back from Ulster’s cohort this season?

Given the huge success of Ireland in the U20 Six Nations it’s doubly difficult to see how any of the Ulster lads are going to break through between now and June and, it’s hard to justify otherwise.

Points scored. 

As we stated in the introduction, Ireland scored 18 tries. An astonishing 13 came from the forwards with the backs picking up 5.The front row union picked up 9 tries in total with, hooker, Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians) leading the way with five.

From and Ulster perspective Callum Reid (Banbridge) was the only Ulster player to trouble the scoreboard, with a try against France.

Out half Harry Byrne leads the points scored table with a total of 36 points from 9 conversions and 6 penalties, Tierney -Martin is in second place wit his 25 points ahead of “replacement” out half  Ben Healy who knocked over 22 points with the boot.

The full list of points scorers is shown below.

Ireland U20 - Individual Points Scorers
PLAYERCLUBPROVINCETCDGPPTS
Harry ByrneLansdowneLeinster090636
Dylan Tierney-MartinCorinthiansConnacht500025
Ben HealyGarryowenMunster050422
Craig CaseyShannonMunster200010
Josh WycherleyYoung MunsterMunster200010
Jonathan WrenCork ConstitutionMunster200010
Colm ReillyBuccaneersConnacht10005
Callum ReidBanbridgeUlster10005
Cormac FoleySt Mary’s CollegeLeinster10005
David HawkshawClontarfLeinster10005
Scott PennyUCDLeinster10005
Tom ClarksonDublin UniversityLeinster10005
John HodnettUCDMunster10005
Jake FlanneryShannonMunster01002

In terms of Club representation the points are fairly evenly spaced with Garryowen, Corinthians and Lansdowne leading the way by virtue of the individual efforts of Healy, Tierney-Martin and Byrne respectively.

Putting the players into Provincial representation gives us Munster just edging out Leinster ahead of a healthy total from Connacht. Ulster looking somewhat lonely way in the back. 😥

All in all, a hugely successful tournament for Ireland U20’s and it was a tournament built on a strong pack and a particularly tenacious front row. The two home matches were both records for stand alone U20’s matches, I believe, so the move to Cork was definitely a good one.

If anyone enjoys jumping on a bandwagon it’s the Munster crowd and I believe there are already 200,000 claiming they were at the French game. I look forward to the book, play and film over the years. 🙂 🙂 🙂

In all serious it was a hugely impressive performance from the Irish lads who dug deep against England and France, whipped on by the passionate support at Irish Independent Park.  Given the fairly disastrous performances in the last two World Rugby U20 Championships, it’s exactly what this team needed and they should travel to Argentina at the end of May in a confident mood.

However, success in the U20 Championship is far from a given for two reasons.

  • It’s a brutal tournament and Ireland blooded very few players outside of the starting XV – any injuries and they may struggle for experience in the knock-out stages.
  • They will need to find a few more tricks outside of their forwards based abrasive game. It won’t be sustainable with matches every 4-5 days.

Having said all that, these U20’s matches are often won and lost in the head, before a ball is kicked, and that might just be the key that gets this particular group into a top four finish. Looking forward to it already.

 

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