The teams have been announced for Ireland’s trip to Northampton to face England in the U20 Six Nations on friday night. Kick off 19:45.

Both teams are undefeated with Ireland sitting at the top of the table a point ahead of their opponents having bagged a maximum 5 points from each of their two games to date.

 Ireland U20 2 2 0 0 74 48 26 2 0 10
 England U20 2 2 0 0 50 41 9 1 0 9
 France U20 2 1 0 1 55 48 7 1 1 6
 Italy U20 2 1 0 1 36 38 -2 0 0 4
 Scotland U20 2 0 0 2 43 59 -16 1 1 2
 Wales U20 2 0 0 2 29 53 -24 1 0 0

It’s a good time for Ireland to visit their opponents, England forced into making 10 changes to their squad, following player unavailability due to club commitments in a full weekend of Premiership rugby.

Ireland have no such worries and with Hayden Hyde (Ballynahinch) and Ethan McIlroy (Queen’s University) recovering they are able to revert to the starting backline that kicked off the tournament against Scotland. The pack sees two changes with Old Belvedere’s John McKee getting the nod ahead of Ballynahinch’s Tom Stewart, who joins the bench. Stewart likely being given a bit of a breather in this one after two abrasive displays to date but I’d guess this jostling for a start between the CCB and BRA alumni will go on throughout their careers.

Alex Seroka (Dublin University) comes into the back row, for his first start, to replace the impressive Mark Hernan who is unavailable due to injury. Max O’Reilly (Dublin University) joins the match day squad for the first time this season after a couple of hit outs during the World Championship last summer.

Whether Ireland need to review their commitment to the U20 Six Nations is for another day but the last few seasons have shown that exposing limited numbers during the Six Nations does come back and bite during the abrasive World Championship. 

With the changes to the England side, Ireland go into this game as clear favourites. However, with so many England players involved in the Premiership it’s likely that England will be a lot stronger come the U20 World Championship, which now kicks off in the new international window at the end of June.

Though Ireland are favourites this is still not going to be easy. England will be challenging their new players to perform and their strength in depth has to be admired.

In last season’s encounter in Cork it was English indiscipline that made the difference but they have subtly switched the pressure onto the Ireland side who will need to keep cool heads and stick to their own game if they are going to add to their seven game unbeaten run in this competition.

Freddie Steward 15 Oran McNulty
Gabriel Hamer-Webb 14 Ethan Mcilroy
Connor Doherty 13 Dan Kelly
Charlie Watson 12 Hayden Hyde
Tom Roebuck 11 Andrew Smith
George Barton 10 Jack Crowley
Sam Maunder 9 Lewis Finlay
Sam Crean 1 Marcus Hanan
Theo Dan 2 John McKee
Luke Green 3 Tom Clarkson
Hugh Tizard 4 Thomas Ahern
George Hammond 5 Brian Deeny
Richard Capstick 6 Alex Soroka
Josh Gray 7 Sean O’Brien
Rusiate Tuima 8 David McCann
Ben Atkins 16 Tom Stewart
Emmanuel Iyogun 17 Harry Noonan
Harvey Beaton 18 Charlie Ward
Chunya Munga 19 Joe McCarthy
Rob Farrar 20 Cian Prendergast
Blake Boyland 21 Ben Murphy
Will Haydon-Wood 22 Tim Corkery
Max Ojomoh 23 Max O’Reilly

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