Sunday 22 September 2019

We've a duty to next crop to stay in top tier - O'Brien

Tommy O'Brien of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Tommy O'Brien of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Experienced back Tommy O'Brien admits that the Irish players have a duty to the next crop coming through to ensure that they qualify for the World Rugby U-20 Championship next season.

A fourth defeat in this year's tournament in France, a 45-29 hammering on Tuesday afternoon from a Scotland side they beat in the Six Nations and in a recent friendly, has left Ireland in the unthinkable position of dropping down to the World Trophy competition next year.

That's an eight-team tournament primarily for emerging rugby nations and among the sides who will participate when it takes place in Romania in September will be Namibia, Hong Kong, Uruguay, Portugal and Fiji.

That's the sort of opposition Ireland will face in 2019 unless they defeat Japan in Beziers on Sunday on the final day of the tournament.

O'Brien, who featured in last year's tournament in Georgia where they also lost all three pool games before recovering to finish ninth with two wins, said they were bitterly disappointed with Tuesday's six tries to four loss to Scotland.

"It was pretty sombre. Very disappointing for us. Too many individual errors, dropped ball and not sorting things out. It is what it is and we have to win that last game and ensure that the future for next year is safe," said O'Brien.

Japan should have beaten Georgia on Tuesday night but Montpellier scrum-half Gela Aprasidze got a try two minutes from time to win 24-22.

Now Ireland, finalists just two years ago and who seemed set for wins over France and South Africa in the pool, must get their act together and fashion a win which keeps them in the primary competition as they have been since it started in 2008.

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"It just shows how fickle the game is," added O'Brien. "We were one lineout away from beating France. South Africa as well. If you are not on form anyone can beat anyone. That's just a lesson for us. You have to be switched on for those 80 minutes.

"Just people slipping off tackles and too many errors, shooting ourselves in the foot which has been a common theme throughout the tournament. It is what it is. We have got to turn it around.

"We have a massive job in the coming days, we can't afford to sulk or anything like that. We have got to man up and make sure that we get that final win and make sure that relegation doesn't happen."'s World Rugby U-20s Championship coverage is in association with PwC

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