The 2013 Ireland U20s - Where Are They now?

The 2013 Ireland U20s - Where Are They now?

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Colman Stanley By Colman Stanley

Ahead of the Ireland U20s' Six Nations clash with France this evening, we take a look back to the 2013 crop of U20s players in their 10th anniversary year.

It was a side who disappointed in the Six Nations, with just two wins and a draw, before showing their true worth in that year's World Championship with a few eye-catching performances, most notably against the New Zealand U20s.

It is also a diverse group of players that includes a World Player of the Year, a Lion, multiple provincial players, a handful of senior internationals, and some who left the life of professional rugby behind them to pursue ventures such as a sauna business and a whiskey brand.

Peter Dooley

Dooley put in stand out performances in both the 2013 Six Nations and the World Championships, which were even greater given that he was young for the age group and would play U20s again in 2014, and how he kept the much talked up Ed Byrne confined to the bench.

He impressed early on his Leinster career with astute showings in the Champions Cup and Pro12, but competition at loosehead from Cian Healy, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, and the aforementioned Byrne, prevented him from capitalising on his early promise.

However, while his recent move to Connacht may have been two or three seasons later than ideal, he is still just 28 years of age and primed for a strong second-half of his professional career.

George McGuigan

Yorkshireman McGuigan has taken one of the more intriguing career routes of this squad. Having grown up in England, he qualified for Ireland and represented them at U18s and U20s level, before switching allegiances to his country of birth.


While he has not made a senior international appearance as of yet, he has been capped by the England Saxons and was called up to one of Eddie Jones' training squads in June 2022.

Club wise, he has lead a distinguished Premiership career with two lengthy stints for the Newcastle Falcons, a couple of seasons with Leicester Tigers, before reaching his current home of Gloucester.

10 December 2016; CJ Stander of Munster is tackled by George McGuigan of Leicester Tigers during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 3 match between Munster and Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Christopher Taylor

Taylor played in both the Six Nations and World Championship in 2013, while representing Ulster and Malone RFC domestically.

There is not much info available on the tight head, but it appears he is forging out a successful career for himself as director of rugby at UBCOB Ravens Rugby Club in Vancouver.


Gavin Thornbury

After his Ireland U20s career, Thornbury left Leinster and took a sabbatical from his Commerce degree, and made the brave decision to move to New Zealand. During his stint down under he juggled work as a roofer and a meat plant worker, with games for Border and Wanganui.

The experience clearly stood to him, and he has been excelling for Connacht ever since. Injuries have come at unfortunate times for him, hampering his quest for a senior Ireland cap, but his form was eventually rewarded with an appearance for Ireland A against the Maori All Blacks in November.

8 March 2013; Christopher Taylor, left, and Gavin Thornbury, right, Ireland. U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France, Dubarry Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

John Donnan

The former Ulster and Ballynahinch RFC lock is currently working as an engineer in Dubai, while also representing the Dubai Exiles.

He was a member of the Ulster senior squad for a number of years and appeared for Ulster A.


Dan Leavy

Leavy missed the 2013 U20s Six Nations, but starred that summer in the World Championship.

Alongside Josh van der Flier, he had a titanic battle against the Baby Blacks and their marquee forward Ardie Savea, in a match which they narrowly lost 31-26.

One of the best talents the country as ever produced, with a career that was severely depleted and eventually cut short by injury.


He is currently an ambassador for Output Sports, a co-founder of Ogham Whiskey, and dabbles in URC punditry work.

15 January 2014; Ireland players, from left, David Busby, Peter Dooley, Dan Leavy, Sean O'Brien and Jack O'Donoghue after a press conference ahead of their opening U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship match against Scotland on Friday the 31st of January. Ireland U20 Squad Press Conference, Sandymount Hotel, Herbert Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Josh van der Flier

While van der Flier stood out for the U20s, he has defied all expectations by becoming the current World Player of the Year, which is a testament not just to his talent but his incredible work ethic.

Nothing much else to add on one of the world's best.

Conor Joyce

Joyce made his league debut for Ulster in at just 18 years of age, two years before he took to the field with the Ireland U20s.


He failed to grind out a career with the province but had successful stints with Jersey Reds and Doncaster Knights in the RFU Championship.

He also started a clothing company, Noggin Sports, which supports mental health awareness projects throughout the UK and Ireland, and is a coach with Silhillians RFC in England.

Luke McGrath

An experienced head in his second year of U20s, and the side's captain.

He would probably have imagined more than the 19 Irish senior caps he has won, but his trophy cabinet is stacked and he remains an integral part of Leinster's 23.

1 February 2013; Luke McGrath, Ireland, is tackled by Rhodri Williams, Wales. U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Parc Eirias, Wales. Picture credit: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE

Steve Crosbie

Crosbie pulled the strings in a talented backline over the course of 2013, before plying his trade in three of the provinces over the coming years.

He was capped at Pro12 level for Leinster, before joining Thornbury in Wanganui. Then, in late 2016, he signed a short-term deal with Munster and lined out for their 'A' side, before joining Connacht where he gained more Pro12 caps.

In 2019 he founded Fad Saoil Saunas, Ireland's first professional mobile sauna unit, which has been frequented by some of the Irish team in the past.

Rory Scholes

Scholes' highlight of his u20s career was a remarkable solo score against Fiji at the World Championships, and he continued his habit of highlight reel tries with a series of doozies for Ulster.

He looked destined for a lengthy career up north, before suddenly finding himself struggling at his province and on a plane to Edinburgh in 2016.

After a season in Scotland he came back to Ireland and signed for Connacht before transferring to Brive, and eventually Périgeuex in the Nationale 2 league where he currently resides.

Rory Scannell/Tom Daly

Both men shared game time at 12 throughout 2013, with Daly also showing out at 13, and Scannell at fullback.

Scannell has been capped at senior level for Ireland under Joe Schmidt, while Daly has been unlucky not to have been selected in any of Andy Farrell's squads.

Both men are at similar stages in their career, at similar levels in the Irish pecking order, and are fighting for a spots in their province's starting XVs.

Tom Farrell

Farrell missed out on the Six Nations that year, but, like Leavy, shone during the summer.

Such was his promise that it came as disappointment and surprise when his career stalled at Leinster. A move out west to Connacht reignited the form from his early years and he established himself as one of the most complete centres in the PRO14.

Injuries have been cruel to him over the last couple of seasons, but 2022/23 has seen a gradual return to his best.

Darren Sweetnam

It was Connacht's David Panter who was favoured on the right wing during that year's Six Nations, but Sweetnam managed to get more minutes in the summer, with Adam Byrne and Alex Wooton also making appearances.

As a former inter-county hurler with Cork, Sweetnam has always been classy under the high-ball, with a turn of pace to boot.

When his Irish prospects began to dry up, after being capped in 2017, he made the move to La Rochelle, before signing for Oyonnax in the Pro D2.

Oyonnax currently sit atop the second tier of French rugby, so we may be seeing 'Sweets' back in a starting XV in one of Europe's three top leagues next season.

Robbie Henshaw

Henshaw was already an established player at Connacht, an Irish Wolfhounds player, and had trained with the senior Ireland squad, before his first and only U20s cap.

He made it count, however, and looked like a man amongst boys at times during a narrow 16-15 win, where he slotted in at 15.

While it turned out that fullback was not his best position, he remains one of the world's premier centres when fit, and we will hopefully see him tog out during this year's Six Nations.

8 February 2013; Robbie Henshaw, left, and David Panter celebrate after victory over England. U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England, Dubarry Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

SEE ALSO: Ireland U20s Make One Change For Crunch France Clash

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