Sunday 18 August 2019

No excuses from Ryan as Ireland U-20s finish eighth

Ireland U-20s 17 New Zealand U-20s 40

Ryan Baird’s stunning 49-minute try stood out amongst some sloppy Ireland play against New Zealand. Photo: Florencia Tan Jun/Sportsfile
Ryan Baird’s stunning 49-minute try stood out amongst some sloppy Ireland play against New Zealand. Photo: Florencia Tan Jun/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

On the back of winning the Grand Slam, the Ireland U-20s came into the World Cup with great expectations that they could carry that form on to the main stage.

They showed flashes of their brilliance over the course of a testing three weeks in Argentina, but ultimately an eighth-place finish is a major disappointment.

This talented group of young players won't need to be told that and when they reflect on the tournament they will have plenty of regrets, because they fell well short of their lofty standards.

That disappointment will fuel them going forward and for many of this group, this is only the beginning of their rugby journey.

New Zealand's win was the final nail in the coffin, but the scoreline didn't tell the full story.

Trailing 26-0 after 20 minutes, Ireland fought back only for the Baby Blacks to pull clear late on.

Josh Wycherley of Ireland is tackled. Photo: Florencia Tan Jun/Sportsfile
Josh Wycherley of Ireland is tackled. Photo: Florencia Tan Jun/Sportsfile

Amidst the sloppy play there were moments of class, and none more so than Ryan Baird's stunning 49th-minute try.

Baird is an exciting prospect and the comparisons that are already being made with James Ryan are not wide of the mark. We could see the St Michael's pair partnering each other in blue and green further down the track.

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"We just didn't show up for the first-half and if you do that against the All Blacks, you will lose," captain Charlie Ryan said.

"But I am proud of the second-half performance. I'm proud of the whole tournament.

Ronan Watters of Ireland is tackled. Photo: Florencia Tan Jun/Sportsfile
Ronan Watters of Ireland is tackled. Photo: Florencia Tan Jun/Sportsfile

"A lot of stuff didn't go our way, but I'm really proud of the way the lads stuck in and gave it their all."

Ireland could easily point to key injuries as the reason they weren't at their best throughout the tournament, but Ryan refused to use that as an excuse.

"Injuries are always going to happen and you have to deal with them as best you can," he insisted.

"I think we did, to be fair. No matter how many injuries we had, we kept digging in and kept the faith. I'm really proud of the boys."

Ireland U-20s - M O'Reilly (B Healy 67); A Kernohan, L Turner, C Foley, R Russell (J Wren 65); J Flannery, C Casey; J Wycherley (M Milne 65), D Tierney-Martin (J McKee 72), T Clarkson; C Ryan (capt), T Ahern (N Murray 67); R Baird (L Clohessy 67), R Watters, B Deeny (A Allison 59).

New Zealand U-20s - C Forbes; E Nanai Seturo (F Burke 77), B Proctor, Q Tupaea, L Fainga'anuku; R Reihana (D McLeod 73), T Funaki (L Carter 57); O Norris (R Cobb 67), S Klein (K Uluilakepa, 72), F Newell (T Williams 50); C Grace, T Vaa'i (J Thompson 57); K Boshier (capt) (T Plumtree 30), J Mua, S Parker.

REF - A Piardi (Italy)

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