Normally we’d be making plans for our coverage of the World Rugby U20 Championship which were due to take place in northern Italy at the end of June.
- Ireland U20 Players Used.
- Ireland U20 Scorers
- Ireland U20 Meters Made
- Ireland U20 Tackles Completed
- Our picks for 2020 World Rugby Under 20 Championship
On 20 March 2020, World Rugby announced that the championship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It promised to be an exciting competition for Ireland U20 who had all but wrapped up the 2020 Six Nations after three games, picking up the Triple Crown in their final completed match against England.
As it stood on 20th March Ireland had fixtures against France and Italy still to come. With three convincing wins Ireland were sitting at the top of the table, a win away from adding the championship to their Triple Crown.
U20 Six Nations Table at 20th March 2020
You can view our writeups of Ireland’s three completed games by clicking below.
Taking the stats from the three games above we’ll now have a look at who was performing and what the likely makeup for the 2020 World Rugby Under 20 Championship would have been or, more correctly, who we would have liked to have seen included.
Ireland U20 Players Used.
There were 29 players used over the three games, 17 from Leinster, 7 from Ulster, 3 from Munster and 1 from both Connacht and IQ Rugby.
Leinster continue to dominate the academy based program providing a staggering 59% of players to the squads. This drops to 47% in terms of minutes spent on the pitch with the Ulster and Munster players averaging more time on the pitch per player.
Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Andrew Smith (Leinster), Dan Kelly (IQ Rugby) and Oran McNulty (Connacht) played every minute of the three games but perhaps the most impressive shift was from prop Tom Clarkson (Leinster) who only dropped one minute despite playing in the most abrasive of positions.
Ireland captain David McCann (Ulster) also clocked up an impressive total, only missing out on six minutes over the three games. The top six by minutes played is below.
|Dan Kelly||Loughborough||IQ Rugby||240|
|Thomas Clarkson||Dublin University||Leinster||239|
ULSTER U20 REPRESENTATION BY YEAR
As far as Ulster representation is concerned, it is a big jump from last season’s 10% representation, in terms of minutes on the pitch, and I like to think it would have increased further should the U20 World Rugby Championship have taken place.
We’ve been tracking Ulster player involvement over the last few seasons at this age grade, below. Normally we do this over the Six Nations and World Championship. It may be only over the three games for this season but it was starting to look like it was shaping up to be a good one. 🙁
|Players in squad||7|
** From only three 2020 U20 Six Nations Squads.
Ireland U20 Scorers
Ireland U20 scored 113 points over the three games averaging just under 38 points per game. It’s an impressive total with the Irish youngsters recording a try bonus point in every match, scoring six tries against both Scotland and England and five against Wales.
Munster, by virtue of the boot of Jack Crowley, lead the way as the highest scoring province. The Cork Constitution out half clocked up 36 points from 2 tries, 10 conversions and 2 penalties.
Thomas Ahern, also Munster, was the second the second highest scorer, and leading try scorer, with 3 tries out of a team total of 17. The forwards contributed 8 tries (47%) and the backs crossed for 9 (53%). This is a reversal on last season where the forwards accounted for 56% of the tries and while this seasons figures are only over three games I do think it is indicative of a subtle shift towards back play.
|Jack Crowley||Cork Con||Munster||2||10||2||36|
|Thomas Clarkson||Dublin University||Leinster||1||0||0||5|
|Alex Soroka||Dublin University||Leinster||1||0||0||5|
|Dan Kelly||Loughborough||IQ Rugby||1||0||0||5|
|Ethan McIlroy||Queen’s University||Ulster||1||0||0||5|
|John McKee||Old Belvedere||Leinster||1||0||0||5|
|Max O’Reilly||Dublin University||Leinster||1||0||0||5|
We have a few extra categories to look at this season thanks to more stats sheets being released by the Six Nations. There is an overwhelming amount of information available now and we’ve documented eleven of them along with our usual scores and minutes played but we are only looking at two additional ones in detail. The two we chose to look at were meters made and tackles completed.
Ireland U20 Metres Made
Ireland made a total of 2303 metres with the ball in hand over the three games giving an average of 768 metres per game.
Oran McNulty clocked up 238 metres in his three games but special mention goes to McCann, Ahern and O’Brien who made the hard yards up front.
|Jack Crowley||Cork Con||Munster||183|
The forwards accounted for a total of 1146 metres (49.8%) and the backs clocked up 1157 (50.2%). The young fit forwards do tend to be more heavily involved at this level, but that is still a lot of metres made up front. As I said earlier there was a subtle shift towards more back play but Ireland’s game is still focused on their hard working pack.
Ireland U20 Tackles Completed
Ireland competed 558 tackles over the three games, an average of 186 per game.
Sean O’Brien was well in front with an average of 21 completed tackles per game, McCann comes in second with an average of 16 per game but the shout out goes to John McKee (Leinster) who’s 33 completed tackles in limited game time is equivalent to an average of 29 per game!
|Thomas Clarkson||Dublin University||Leinster||39||2|
|John McKee||Old Belvedere||Leinster||33||3|
As you would expect, the forwards completed the bulk of the tackles with a total of 381 (68%) over the game, this was twice as many as the backs who completed 177 (32%).
However when you combine the meters made and tackles completed that is a phenomenal amount of involvement from O’Brien and McCann, even for back row players.
We’ll wait and see if the Six Nations is completed before dishing out any awards but those two are ticking all the boxes for player of the season.