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Grand Slam Is Only The Beginning For The U20s Class Of 2023

Grand Slam Is Only The Beginning For The U20s Class Of 2023
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The Ireland U20 rugby team has once again captured the Grand Slam title, joining the elite ranks of 2022, 2019, and 2007 squads. In a fierce and intence battle at Musgrave Park, the young Irish side clinched the Under-20s Grand Slam with a 36-24 victory over England. Coach Richie Murphy and his talented squad deserve immense praise for their exceptional performances throughout the campaign. The four provinces have supplied the IRFU with extraordinary talent, which Murphy and his coaching staff have masterfully orchestrated to secure this prestigious title.

Key Stats

  • 28 players donned the Ireland U20s jersey during the Six Nations, with Hugh Gavin playing every minute of the tournament.
  • Ireland topped the points chart with 239 points, a whopping 89 points more than the 2019 team.
  • Out-half Sam Prendergast led the tournament's points tally with 69 points.
  • Backrowers Brian Gleeson and Ruadhan Quinn topped Ireland's try-scoring list with four tries each, followed by scrum-half Fintan Gunne with three tries.
  • Hugh Gavin dominated the linebreak charts with 11 linebreaks.
  • John Devine was the offload king with eight offloads.
  • Diarmuid Mangan and Henry McErlean shared the top spot for ball carries, with 62 each, and the dynamic Brian Gleeson followed closely behind.


What next for the Class of 2023?

Some of the gifted Ireland U20 Grand Slam champions are set to launch successful rugby careers as many join their respective provincial academies. Mangan and Prendergast are already part of the Leinster Academy, while O'Connell & Quinn represent Munster Academy. Connacht Academy boasts Hugh Gavin and Harry West, and Ulster Academy is home to Joe Hopes, James McNabney, and Rory Telfer.

These established young talents, including Quinn and Prendergast, will be accompanied by emerging stars such as Gleeson, Cooney, Gavin, and McErlean in the senior team sessions. Some may even secure game time in the final rounds of the URC. In the meantime, most of the squad will continue to participate in AIL action, representing their clubs in the final three rounds.



Provincial European Squad Interest

Four standout players from the U20 Grand Slam-winning side have already been added to provincial Champions Cup squads for the knockout ties on April 1st. Leinster has enlisted centre Hugh Cooney, scrum-half Fintan Gunne, and hooker Gus McCarthy, while Munster has recruited hooker Danny Sheahan.

As Leinster prepares to travel to South Africa for their final two URC games against the Lions and Bulls, it would be a fantastic opportunity for promising players like Gunne and Prendergast to be part of the tour and experience game time.

This summer's U20 World Cup

Furthermore, the U20 Rugby World Cup beckons. South Africa will host the championship from June 24th to July 14th after three consecutive cancellations due to Covid-19. The


tournament will take place in the picturesque Western Cape regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Wellington, featuring the world's top 12 teams. The participating nations include Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and Wales. 

Richie Murphy's Ireland has been drawn in Pool B, where they will face Australia, England, and Fiji. What a great opportunity for Irish rugby to showcase their talent on the world stage and it would be a fantastic achievement if this squad can go one stage better than the 2005 team and lift the U20s World Cup in July……. I wouldn’t rule it out! 


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