Grand Slam stars lead the way for U20s’ French exam

Johnny Bray

Ireland boss Richie Murphy will rely on Grand Slam experience when his side take on France in the Six Nations Under-20s Summer Series today.

Ireland’s starting XV against Les Bleus will feature 14 members of the squad that secured a Six Nations Under-20s Grand Slam in February.

The game at the Payanini Rugby Center will see the top two from February’s 2022 Six Nations Under-20s Championship go head to head.

The last time the two sides met saw Ireland move one step closer to the Grand Slam with a dramatic 17-16 win over hosts France at the Stade Maurice David.

Winger Shay McCarthy is in line for his Ireland U20s debut in the back three, the only player in the starting team without a Grand Slam to his name.

Leinster winger Aitzol King returns to Ireland’s starting line-up, while Dylan O’Grady completes an all-Leinster back three. Fionn Gibbons partners Daniel Hawkshaw in midfield, with the Munster duo of Tony Butler and Ethan Coughlan the half-backs. Darragh McSweeney and Oisin Michel will stand on either side of hooker James McCormick.

And in the second row, Ireland will be able to rely on Conor O’Tighearnaigh and exiting Ulster forward Adam McNamee. Captain Reuben Crothers, James McNabney and Lorcan McLoughlin make up the back row.

France will be out for revenge against Ireland in Italy, and hooker Connor Sa emphasised how challenging the France training camps can be in building up competitions like the Six Nations Summer Series.

He said: “With all these camps, it really puts you in a different place, it puts you into a professional area and pushes you in a different zone.

“When you’re with a club, you really know everyone whereas when you’re with the French team it’s different — it’s more serious and more concentrated.”

The Six Nations U20 Summer Series takes place from 24 June – 12 July. Fans can watch every match live. For more information visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJHm6BFw-9JRA1CMekNLwMg


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