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Six men’s U20 players to watch in 2021

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Following a hiatus of more than a year, rugby fans around the world will have a chance to run the rule over some of the men’s game’s brightest emerging talents this month.

The U20 Six Nations 2021, which was delayed as a result of COVID-19, will take place in Cardiff between 19 June and 13 July, as England go in search of a ninth title.

Next Friday, meanwhile, South Africa will welcome Argentina, Georgia and Uruguay to Stellenbosch for the U20 International Series.

Ahead of the action we picked out six players who could be set for a couple of months to remember.

Oscar Beard (England)

Beard made his English Premiership debut for Harlequins at Sale last Friday, lining up on the left wing and earning plaudits for his willingness to put his body on the line in defence.

It is in the centre that Beard has caught the eye at age-group level, though, and he appears to be the man in possession of England’s number 13 jersey as the U20 Six Nations approaches.

Still only 19, the outside-centre is a product of the Harlequins academy having played in the junior ranks of both Alton Rugby Club and Farnham RUFC, as World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Jonny Wilkinson did.

Beard will be joined in the England U20 squad by Harlequins team-mate Fin Baxter, and the young prop is another player to keep an eye on.

Joshua Brennan (France)

One of several players included in the France U20 squad with a famous surname, Brennan is the son of former Ireland international Trevor.

Brennan, who like his older brother Daniel came through the Toulouse academy, made his Six Nations U20 debut during last season’s curtailed tournament, and captained France against Wales.

The Dublin-born second-row played twice for the Toulouse first-team this season and scored a try in the final as the academy side beat Perpignan to the junior championship title.

Brennan’s Toulouse pack-mate Théo Ntamack, brother of Romain and son of Émile, is also in the France squad and will hope to carry his good recent form into the tournament in Wales.

Jordan Hendrikse (South Africa)

Fly-half Hendrikse will not turn 19 until 28 June, but his undoubted quality has already earned him first-team opportunities at Gauteng franchise, the Lions.

Hendrikse turned in a Player of the Match performance when he wore the number 10 jersey in the Lions’ 39-37 defeat to the Stormers last month, kicking 12 points in the process.

“He has got a special talent. More than him kicking the ball prodigiously, it’s the confidence that he brings in the way he organises everyone around him,” Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen said after the Rainbow Cup contest.

If selected for the matches against Argentina, Georgia and Uruguay, Hendrikse will follow in the footsteps of older brother Jaden, who represented the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2019.

Ben Muncaster (Scotland)

Born in North Berwick, Muncaster travelled south of the border when he won a cricket and rugby scholarship to Rugby School in England.

Although he had a trial with Middlesex, it was with an oval ball that he excelled and his performances for Rugby, where William Webb Ellis is said to have invented the game almost 200 years ago, caught the attention of Leicester Tigers.

Muncaster spent his formative years in the Tigers academy before being lured back up to Scotland with Edinburgh last summer, and he subsequently made his senior debut during the Rainbow Cup win over Zebre in April.

Back-row forward, Muncaster has represented Scotland at both U18 and U19 level and has been included in his country’s squad for this year’s U20 Six Nations.

Davit Niniashvili (Georgia)

It remains to be seen whether Niniashvili will travel to Stellenbosch with Georgia U20 such has been his impact with the full Lelos squad.

Niniashvili has admitted that he felt “dazzled and excited” when he was first called up to the seniors last May, aged just 17.

But, he has gone on to excel on the test stage, winning his first caps as a replacement in the Autumn Nations Cup matches against Ireland and Fiji.

Full-back Niniashvili has since started matches against Russia (twice) and Spain, and scored his first international try in a 23-6 defeat of the Russians in Kaliningrad in March. 

It has also been confirmed that he will move to Top 14 club Lyon next season with countryman Beka Saghinadze.

Joaquín Oviedo (Argentina)

Number eight Oviedo was the surprise inclusion in Mario Ledesma’s training squad for Argentina’s 2020 test matches, receiving the call-up on his 19th birthday.

Oviedo did not make it onto the pitch in any of Los Pumas’ official matches, but will have learned an incredible amount training alongside Rodrigo Bruni and Facundo Isa.

He will now hope to put those lessons into practice when Argentina U20 face South Africa, Georgia and Uruguay in Stellenbosch.

Oviedo’s older brother Leonel is a hooker who featured at the World Rugby U20 Championship in both 2017 and 2018, and went on to play for the Argentina XV at the World Rugby Nations Cup 2019.

READ MORE: South Africa “no longer just a follower” when it comes to gender diversity in rugby >>

Source – World Rugby


6 Nations

Stewart Joins Ireland Squad In Portugal As Wales Prep Intensifies

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Ulster hooker Tom Stewart has joined the Ireland squad in Quinta do Lago to provide additional cover following a hamstring issue picked up by Ronan Kelleher. Kelleher will be managed by the Ireland Medical team over the coming days.

The uncapped Stewart is a former Ireland U20 international who played twice for Emerging Ireland in the Autumn, starting in the victories over the Griquas and the Cheetahs. The Ireland coaching group also included him in the match day preparations for the Ireland ‘A’ game against the All Blacks XV in November.

Stewart’s addition brings the number of Emerging Ireland tourists in the Senior squad to five – Jack Crowley, Joe McCarthy, Jamie Osborne and Cian Prendergast.

The squad will continue to train at The Campus in Quinta do Lago this week before flying to Cardiff on Thursday ahead of the opening round of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Championship.

Ireland Squad, 2023 Guinness Six Nations:

Backs (17)

Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 41 caps
Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 14 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 7 caps
Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution) 2 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 98 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 23 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) 8 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 25 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Marys College) 30 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 15 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 9 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 100 caps
Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 3 caps
Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas)*
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 109 caps (c)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 35 caps

Forwards (20)

Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 8 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 27 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 36 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 33 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 23 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 63 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 121 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 68 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 31 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 18 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 48 caps
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University) 1 cap
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 89 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 4 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps
Cian Prendergast (Connacht/Corinthians) 1 cap
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Tom Stewart (Ulster/Ballynahinch)*
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 45 caps

*denotes uncapped player

2023 Guinness Six Nations Fixtures

Wales v IRELAND
Saturday 4th February 2023, KO 14:15 (IST)
VIRGIN / BBC / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

IRELAND v France
Saturday 11th February 2023, KO 14:15 (IST)
RTE TV / ITV / RTE Radio / BBC Radi0

Italy v IRELAND
Saturday 25th February 2023, KO 14:15 (IST)
RTE TV / ITV / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

Scotland v IRELAND
Sunday 12th March 2023, KO 15:00 (IST)
RTE TV / BBC / RTE Radio / BBC Radi0

IRELAND v England
Saturday 18th March 2023, KO 17:00 (IST)
VIRGIN / ITV / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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Savea back at the helm of the Hurricanes

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All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea will captain the Hurricanes again for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

Savea, who will have his 11th season in the side, will mark his first appearance in the competition by playing his 120th game.

The Hurricanes’ season opens against the Reds in round one.

Savea said: “I’m looking forward to the season, especially getting out to the communities, when we play in Levin against the Crusaders for our pre-season game and Palmerston North against the Western Force on Sunday, April 2.

“We’ve just moved into our new facility, and there’s something awesome about change; it’s brought in a lot of energy. It’s refreshing to come in and be in a new space alongside other professional teams. Hopefully, being here can help us move forward and prepare well for our games.”

The facility is part of the New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport at what was the Central Institute of Technology at Trentham and houses, several Wellington-based teams.

Coach Jason Holland was delighted to be able to call on Savea’s leadership ability again.

“Ardie is a special leader. He’s the sort of guy you want to follow in whatever he does. He’s worked hard at his leadership around all the small details, around how to get the best out of the people around him.

“He’s been good at driving us as a group, players and management, about being well-planned and clear in our roles in what we’re leading.

“Ards has a great relationship with all the boys and cares about them and the team and that shows in the way he leads.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity

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James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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