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Noel McNamara Pleased With U20 Progress Despite Delay In Grand Slam Hunt

Noel McNamara Pleased With U20 Progress Despite Delay In Grand Slam Hunt
By Gary Connaughton

Just as Ireland's Six Nations game against France this weekend has been called off, the U20s find themselves in a similar situation.

Noel McNamara's side will not play their fixture against the French, derailing their search for a second consecutive grand slam. Ireland have been in magnificent form up to this point in the championship, but will now be forced to wait to play their final matches against Italy and France.

Speaking to the IRFU's Instagram page, McNamara said that while everyone is disappointed that the final two matches won't be played as scheduled, he is delighted with progress the players have made up to this point.

I think it is disappointing, but that's as far as I could go with it to be honest. We're very keen to finish the championship at some point, and over the course of the next couple of months time will go into fixing those fixtures.

In terms of where we're at at this point, I think it has to be a positive that we have three wins from three. Probably even more important is the improvement players have shown over over the course of the championship and when we started.

First camp was in November so it's been quite a journey since then. I think the players, individually and collectively, have shown an improvement every time we're together. It's a really important part of their development that they can continue to do that.

The players will now return to the provincial and club game, with many set to feature for their AIL teams in the coming weeks.

After that, what happens in the months ahead is very much up in the air. The World Championships are set to take place in Italy over the summer, but one would imagine that event is now in doubt considering the effect of the coronavirus in the area.


McNamara said that the team will just focus on improving and worry about what comes after that at a later date:

Many of them will go back into playing in the AIL. That's a key part of the U20 player development journey. Back into the business end of the AIL, into play-offs and tight squeezes at the other end of the table as well.

There's going to be huge opportunities for them to play in those games. We'll get back together at some point in April and review the Six Nations to date. Hopefully we'll have an up to date season plan on where we go to next...

We don't know. Those decisions will be made a government level and by health experts. Ultimately for us it's about being in control of what we can control, and that's trying to be the best version of ourselves when that comes around.

We will focus on getting better any chance we can get.

SEE ALSO: Andy Farrell Admits He Is 'Gutted' After France Game Called Off

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