Ireland U-20 qualify for World Championship semi-final
Mike Ruddock’s side will now face England in knock-out stages on Sunday morning
Ireland’s Garry Ringrose seen here in action against France produced another brilliant display in the Under-20 Junior World Championship pool match against Fiji today. Photograph: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
Ireland U-20 38 Fiji U-20 0: There is a Latin phrase ‘omne trium perfectum,’ which translates as everything that comes in threes is perfect or complete. It is a motto that this young Ireland team might care to adopt after this morning’s victory over Fiji in the QBE stadium in Auckland that earned them a place in the Under 20 World Championship semi-finals for only the second time in their history.
French referee Alexandre Ruiz had a massive bearing on the shape of this match in awarding Ireland three penalty tries and also issuing three yellow cards to Fijians, number eight Vincent Sosefo, openside flanker Ameniasi Natuiyaga and loosehead prop Aseri Robarobalevu. Fiji played the last 10 minutes of the first half with just 12 players, during which time Ireland were awarded two penalty tries.
Both were products of their scrum dominance and indeed the third penalty try in the 68th minute of the match, provided their fourth in total at that stage and therefore confirmed the bonus point that they required to guarantee a place in the semi-finals. They will face England, who beat Ruddock’s side quite comfortably ini the Six Nations earlier this year, in Sunday’s semi-final, again in Auckland (6.05am Irish time).
It is the second time that an Irish side has reached the penultimate stage of the tournament emulating the squad of 2004 - it was an Under-21 competition then - who were beaten in the final by New Zealand in Glasgow.
Jamie Heaslip, Tommy Bowe (he did not play in the latter stages because of injury) and Tomas O’Leary to name three came through from that side to forge excellent senior international careers and there are several from coach Mike Ruddock’s current squad that might ape that progression.
Former Blackrock College schoolboy and current UCD student Garry Ringrose was absolutely outstanding. A year young for this age-grade, and one of seven players in the match-day 23 that will be eligible again next year, his balance, footwork, vision and lines of running were a joy to behold in extremely difficult conditions. He invariably beat the first tackler, took his team over the gain-line, offering direction and impetus in attack and technically excellent defence.
For good measure he took on the place-kicking responsibilities as outhalf Ross Byrne, who had fulfilled those duties in the opening two matches (20 points) may have been carrying an injury. Ringrose wasn’t tested with any of the four conversions or a successful penalty to boot, all taken from in front or close to the posts. He did miss a penalty attempt and miss-place one pass but even Homer nods.