Saturday 3 December 2016

Ireland Under-20s soak up atmosphere in Manchester ahead of World Championship final

John Fallon in Manchester

Published 24/06/2016 | 23:10

Ireland players take a walk on the pitch ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2016 Final match at the AJ Bell Stadium, Manchester. Picture date June 24th, 2016 Pic Matt McNulty/Sportimage
Ireland players take a walk on the pitch ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2016 Final match at the AJ Bell Stadium, Manchester. Picture date June 24th, 2016 Pic Matt McNulty/Sportimage

Hundreds of Irish rugby fans are expected in Manchester today as Nigel Carolan’s side bid to lift the World Rugby U-20 Championship for the first time in history.

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And Irish team manager Hendrik Kruger has praised the fans and the players’ families for all the support they have received on their march to their first ever final in this grade.

They made history by becoming the first men’s national team from Ireland to defeat New Zealand when they ousted the reigning champions 33-24 in their second pool match.

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Some supporters and family members started arriving in Ireland last night but the majority are expected to fly in this morning.

“The players’ families have been extraordinary, most of them have been going back and forth for each game. It has been superb. They are a great bunch of young men and their families must be so proud of them,” he said.

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Coach Carolan has guided Ireland to four wins from four in the tournament, winning all three pool matches for the first time in the nine-year history of the competition.

And Manchester’s huge Irish population are also expected to get behind these boys in green as they prepare to face hosts England.

But while it is Ireland’s first appearance in the final, England have been in six of the eight deciders so far, winning the crown twice.

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