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This Ireland Team Has Already Faced England In The European U18 Finals Two Years Ago

This Ireland Team Has Already Faced England In The European U18 Finals Two Years Ago
By Conor O'Leary
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Saturday won't be the first time that this Ireland team will have faced the same English team with silverware on the line. Just two years ago, when the Ireland U20s were still U18s - they faced off against England U18 in the FIRA European Championships in Poland.

A large portion of players from both teams are returning some two years later to face off for the World Rugby U20 Championships, but so much has changed. There is no period in a player's life that sees as much improvement than from U18 to U20, and that's the case with these players. Nevertheless, it's informative about which players are the same, and how that game went.

Both teams have exactly seven players from their team who will start on Saturday night. The names for Ireland in particular that are the same are interesting - Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Max Deegan, Jacob Stockdale, Greg Jones, and Jimmy O'Brien - all considered to be Ireland's best players. That U18 team also had five players who have been involved with Nigel Carolan's U20s this year but were ruled out through injury, as well as Paul Kiernan who is in the squad but not involved tomorrow, and Calvin Nash - who is U19 this year.

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Indeed, it's interesting that there are more England players returning from the U18 final than from the U20 Six Nations clash between the two teams in March - where Ireland's remarkable comeback gave them their first win of the tournament.

For England, loosehead prop Lewis Boyce, second rows Stan South and Huw Taylor, flanker George Nott, no. 8 Callum Chick, outhalf and U20 player of the tournament nominee Harry Mallinder, and centre Joe Marchant are returning from that U18 team.

In 2014, Ireland started the better of the two sides, taking the lead twice in the first half but ultimately headed into the break down 17-14. Jacob Stockdale and Jack Power (who was ruled out of this year's tournament with injury after starting during the Six Nations) scored Ireland's tries. Ireland eventually collapsed in the second half 30-14.

Here's a comparison of the teams as U18s to the teams announced for tomorrow's final:

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Ireland U18:

1. Andrew Porter, 2. John Molony, 3. Conan O'Donnell (injured), 4. James Ryan, 5. Sean O'Connor, 6. Will Connors, 7. Jonny Guy, 8. Max Deegan;

9. Rowan Osborne, 10. Matt Gilsenan, 11. Calvin Nash, 12. Paul Kiernan, 13. Jack Power, 14. Jordan Larmour, 15. Jacob Stockdale.

Selected Replacements: Conor Kenny, Peter Claffey, Greg Jones, Jimmy O'Brien.

Ireland U20:

England U18:

1. Lewis Boyce, 2. Ollie Adams, 3. Josh Ibuankope, 4. Stan South, 5. George Nott, 6. Joe Batley, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Will Safe;

9. Jack Maunder, 10. Harry Mallinder, 11. Kai Little, 12. Charlie Thacker, 13. Lucas Slowik, 14. George Perkins, 15. Taylor Prelll

Selected Replacements: Callum Chick, Huw Taylor, Joe Marchant.

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See Also: Ireland Have A Nominee For World Rugby U20 Player of the Tournament

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