History Boys: The Irish Under-20 squad that defeated New Zealand

The 23 on Ireland duty in the famous 33-34 victory over New Zealand in the Under-20 World Championship

Ireland celebrate their victory over New Zealand during the Under 20’s Rugby Union World Cup match at the City Academy Stadium, Manchester. Photograph: PA

Ireland celebrate their victory over New Zealand during the Under 20’s Rugby Union World Cup match at the City Academy Stadium, Manchester. Photograph: PA

 

15 Jacob Stockdale

Position: Fullback/Centre/Wing

Age: 20

Club: Belfast Harlequins

A member of this team last year’s team, this season he has played a few games for Ulster in the Pro12. Tall, powerful, quick with a big left foot he can play right across the backline but has excelled at fullback in Ireland’s two matches.

14 Matthew Byrne

Position: Wing

Age: 19

Club: Terenure College

He hasn’t always been the first choice on the right wing for the team this season but he’s shown glimpses of his quality in this tournament on growing into the demands imposed at this level.

13 Shane Daly

Position: Centre

Age: 19

Club: Cork Constitution

Ireland coach Nigel Carolan regards him very highly as a prospect. There is a raw quality to his play but there’s no doubting that he has potential and a great attitude on the pitch to boot.

12 Conor O’Brien

Position: Centre/Wing

Age: 20

Club: Clontarf

He was used on the wing and at centre during the Six Nations Championship but has made the number 12 jersey his to great effect. He’s a lovely balanced runner, with good feet and hands and resolute in defence.

11 Hugo Keenan

Position: Wing

Age: 19

Club: UCD

Things haven’t always gone smoothly for him this season but there’s no doubting his ability as he showed with a brilliant attacking performance against New Zealand: quick with a great step, he’s blossomed.

10 Bill Johnston

Position: Outhalf

Age: 19

Club: Garryowen

The Irish team will be saying novenas that the shoulder injury that he suffered is not a recurrence of the one that saw him have a reconstruction and thereby miss the Six Nations. He is a brilliant footballer and adds so much to the team.

9 Stephen Kerins

Position: Scrumhalf

Age: 20

Club: Sligo

He fought with John Poland for the jersey during the Six Nations before claiming it for his own. He is so fast across the ground to rucks and has a quicksilver service. His defence has improved.

1 Andrew Porter

Position: Prop

Age: 20

Club: UCD

Second Captains

A member of last year’s team, he has been absolutely brilliant in the tournament so far. He is explosively quick, a powerful carrier and very good in the set scrum: potential senior star.

2 Adam McBurney

Position: Hooker

Age: 19

Club: Ballymena

Another who can draw some experience from last year at this level. He is teak tough, abrasive, with and without the ball, and a key figure in this team. One of the leaders and a player with a bright future.

3 Ben Betts

Position: Prop

Age: 19

Club: Young Munster

The injury to Conor Kenny handed him a chance when coming on against Wales. He is very highly regarded in Munster circles and even in the brief cameos it’s easy to understand why.

4 Cillian Gallagher

Position: Secondrow/Flanker

Age: 18

Club: Sligo

The 18-year-old was brilliant in the Six Nations Championship when playing blindside flanker and hasn’t missed a beat when handed a role in the secondrow for the tournament. A superb prospect.

5 James Ryan (capt)

Position: Secondrow

Age: 19

Club: Lansdowne

Most of the superlatives have already been used for Ireland’s captain. He is a phenomenal athlete with a fine rugby brain and an inspirational leader.

6 Greg Jones

Position: Flanker/Number eight

Age: 20

Club: UCD

He came in during the Six Nations and established himself as a first choice player. Athletic, mobile and a knack for putting in the odd thunderous tackle, the UCD student is an important part of a fine backrow.

7 David Aspil

Position: Flanker

Age: 19

Club: St Mary’s College

The injury to Will Connors, a first choice in the Six Nations, has given the Mary’s openside his opportunity to come to the World Cup and he’s grasped it impressively.

8 Max Deegan

Position: Number eight

Age: 19

Club: Lansdowne

A brilliant athlete and footballer he is another who seems destined to go on and achieve great things in the sport given a reasonable run. He started rugby as a centre but literally outgrew the role but the skills and pace remain.

16 Vincent O’Brien

Position: Hooker

Age: 20

Club: Cork Constitution

He didn’t play during the Six Nations but made his debut when coming on against Wales in the opening match of the tournament.

17 James Bollard

Position: Prop

Age: 20

Club: Dublin University

He made his first start for Ireland in the last math of the Six Nations against Scotland. He is unlucky in that he’s behind one of Ireland’s outstanding players in Porter.

18 Vahktang Abdaladze

Position: Prop

Age: 20

Club: Clontarf

Another who didn’t play any part in the Six Nations but did feature prominently for Clontarf in their run to the Ulster Bank Division 1A title. He has a very strong all round game.

19 Sean O’Connor

Position: Secondrow/Backrow

Age: 19

Club: Cashel

The Scottish game in the Six Nations was his first start, when named in the secondrow alongside Ryan. He’s featured regularly from the bench.

20 Kelvin Brown

Position: Flanker

Age: 20

Club: Shannon

He’s been largely used as an impact replacement. He is a very strong carrier and a powerful tackler who loves the physicality of the contact.

21 Niall Saunders

Position: Scrumhalf

Age: 18

School: Epsom College

The son of former Ireland captain and scrumhalf Rob, and the youngest member of the squad, he won’t be 19 until December. One superb cameo from the bench in the Six Nations suggests he’s another fine prospect.

22 Johnny McPhillips

Position: Outhalf/Fullback

Age: 19

Club: QUB

He was first choice outhalf in the Six Nations in the absence of the injured Johnston. He played most of his rugby at school at fullback.

23 Jimmy O’Brien

Position: Outhalf/Centre

Age: 19

Club: UCD

He picked up an injury in the Six Nations but recovered in time to be named in the World Cup squad. He’s a super runner and distributor.

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