Ireland Under 20s face France in last match

Mike Ruddock’s team hope to end the Six Nations Championship with a win

Ireland’s Cian Kelleher scores the first try of the game against Italy. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

It’s a tough assignment for Mike Ruddock’s men. France, seeking a Grand Slam on home soil and Ireland coming in with average form in the championship after two wins and two defeats. This game seems like a tailor -made stage for the French juniors to impress on.

Ruddock's side were beaten 16-0 by Wales in Dubarry Park and 33-9 by England in Franklin's Gardens with wins over Scotland and Italy keeping them mid-table.

A win tonight in the Stade Maurice Trelut would keep Ireland comfortably off the bottom and there will be some comfort in that.

It’s unlikely the team will finish any higher than third as second-placed England face Italy in their final match in Stadio Peroni.

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Ruddock has made three changes as well as a positional switch to the side that beat Italy. Cian Kelleher moves from the wing to fullback, with Alex Wootton coming on to the flank. The UCD halfback combination of Nick McCarthy and Ross Byrne are replaced by Jack Cullen from Bruff and Lansdowne’s Conor McKeon.

Sean O’Brien continues in the role of captain and is again partnered by Ross Molony in the second row.

IRELAND U 20s: C Kelleher (Lansdowne); A Wootton (Garryowen), D Goggin (Young Munster), P Robb (Old Belvedere). A Byrne (UCD); C McKeon (Lansdowne), J Cullen (Bruff); P Dooley (Lansdowne), M Abbott (Cork Con), R Burke (Cork Con), S O'Brien (Galwegians, capt), R Molony (UCD), P Timmins (UCD, R Moloney (Buccaneers), J O'Donoghue (UL Bohemians). Replacements: Sean McNulty (UCD ), D Coulson (Lansdowne), O Heffernan (Lansdowne), S Gardiner (Lansdowne), F Taggart ( Harlequins), N McCarthy (UCD), R Byrne (UCD), D Busby (QUB).

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times