The Connacht Rugby Academy Squad for 2021/22 can be confirmed.
 
Included are the six indigenous Connacht players who represented Ireland in the U20 Six Nations squad this summer, as well as new Year 1 recruits Will Reilly and Josh O’Connor.
 
Connacht Rugby Academy Manager Eric Elwood says:
 
“We are really pleased with the talent we have in the Academy squad this season. Six players gained huge experience on the international scene over the summer which is a testament to their development the past few years. This was Connacht’s highest ever representation at this level which speaks volumes of their quality.
 
The lack of club & schools rugby last season has proved a challenge for us all, but with our U18s and U19s competing in the Interpro Series, more players both in and out of our Academy will gain vital playing time and given an opportunity to impress.
 
There’s been plenty of changes behind the scenes with new staff and structures to help support our Pathway players, so we’re really excited by what can be achieved in the years ahead.”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY ACADEMY SQUAD 2021/22
 
Declan ADAMSON – Hooker
Ciaran BOOTH – Back Row
Donnacha BYRNE – Back Row
Eoin DE BUITLÉAR – Hooker
Cathal FORDE – Out-Half/Centre
Shane JENNINGS – Centre
Diarmuid KILGALLEN – Back Three
Oisin MCCORMACK – Back Row
Darragh MURRAY – Lock
Josh O’CONNOR– Back Three
Will REILLY – Scrum-Half
Charlie WARD – Prop

Head Coach Richie Murphy has named his Ireland U20s Match Day squad, sponsored by PwC, for Thursday’s U20 Six Nations Round 3 encounter against England at Cardiff Arms Park (Kick-off 8pm, RTÉ Player/RTÉ News Now and Six Nations YouTube for UK viewers).
 
Ireland opened their Championship campaign with bonus-point wins over Scotland and Wales, and Murphy has made two changes in personnel to his starting XV for Thursday’s showdown with England in Cardiff.
 
Temi Lasisi and Sam Illo return to the front row as the Ireland management continue to carefully manage resources and the squad’s workload, with Alex Kendellen once again captaining the side from the back row.
 
Murphy has selected an unchanged backline as Jamie Osborne, Ben Moxham and Chris Cosgrave line up in the back three, with Connacht duo Cathal Forde and Shane Jennings continuing their midfield partnership.
 
Nathan Doak, who scored 20 points and was named Player of the Match for his performance against Wales last time out, is retained at scrum-half, with Tim Corkery named to start at out-half.
 
Lasisi and Illo pack down either side of hooker Ronan Loughnane, while the second row pairing of Alex Soroka and Harry Sheridan remains unchanged. Kendellen is joined in the back row by Donnacha Byrne and Oisin McCormack.
 
Murphy has plenty of options on his replacements bench, including Chay Mullins, who has come through the IQ Rugby programme and is named in the Match Day squad for the first time.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Murphy said: “We have been pleased with our start to the Championship, but we know we must continue to make improvements week-on-week, starting on Thursday evening against a very strong England side. The squad have worked incredibly hard on optimising our recovery in between matches and we go into Thursday’s game confident that we are moving in the right direction.”
 
Ireland U20s (v England):
 
15. Jamie Osborne (Naas CBS/Naas RFC/Leinster)
14. Ben Moxham (Larne High School/Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
13. Shane Jennings (Garbally College/Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
12. Cathal Forde (Colaiste Iognaid/Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
11. Chris Cosgrave (St. Michael’s College/UCD RFC/Leinster)
10. Tim Corkery (St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny/UCD RFC/Leinster)
9. Nathan Doak (Wallace High School/Banbridge RFC/Ulster)

1. Temi Lasisi (CBS Enniscorthy/Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
2. Ronan Loughnane (Cistercian College Roscrea/UCD RFC/Leinster)
3. Sam Illo (Wesley College/Old Wesley RFC/Leinster)
4. Alex Soroka (Belvedere College/Clontarf RFC/Leinster)
5. Harry Sheridan (Sullivan Upper School/Dublin University FC/Ulster)
6. Donnacha Byrne (Summerhill College/Sligo RFC/Connacht)
7. Oisin McCormack (Garbally College/Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
8. Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork/UCC RFC/Munster)(Captain)

Replacements:

16. Eoin de Buitléar (Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin/An Ghaeltacht/Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
17. Jack Boyle (St. Michael’s College/UCD RFC/Leinster)
18. Mark Donnelly (CBC Cork/Garryowen FC/Munster)
19. Mark Morrissey (Blackrock College/UCD RFC/Leinster)
20. Reuben Crothers (Wallace High School/Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
21. Conor McKee (Sullivan Upper School/Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
22. Ben Carson (Wallace High School/Banbridge RFC/Ulster)
23. Jude Postlethwaite (RBAI/Banbridge RFC/Ulster)
24. Jack Kelleher (PBC Cork/UCC RFC/Munster)
25. Daniel Okeke (Ardscoil Ris/Shannon RFC/Munster)
26. Chay Mullins (SGC Filton/Bristol Bears/IQ Rugby).

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are thrilled to announce the appointments of Andrew Browne and Mark Sexton to the roles of Elite Player Development Officer (EPDO).
 
As an EPDO, Browne and Sexton will manage and operate the elite player development programmes in the Connacht Academy. Their appointments come after the announcement that EPDOs Mossy Lawler and Colm Tucker will move to the Professional coaching team from the 2021-22 season.
 
Andrew Browne is a familiar face to Connacht Rugby supporters, having represented the province 156 times across an 11 year career after coming through the Connacht Academy pathway. A Galway native and a member of Galwegians RFC, Browne was a member of the squad that won the 2015-16 Guinness PRO12.
 
Since ending his career in 2018 Browne has gained valuable coaching experience, acting as Head Coach for Galwegians RFC and Assistant Coach to the Connacht U19s.
 
Mark Sexton joins Connacht Rugby following many years’ experience as a player and coach in Ireland. He is currently attack and backs coach for Leinster U19s, St. Mary’s RFC and St. Mary’s College SCT. He enjoyed a distinguished playing career at St. Mary’s RFC also, playing in the AIL for 10 years and winning a Division 1 title in 2012.
 
Commenting on today’s announcement, Connacht Rugby Academy Manager Eric Elwood says:
“I am delighted to welcome Andrew and Mark to Connacht Rugby and to our Academy team. They are two young coaches who have played the game at a high level and have become students of the game, gaining valuable coaching experience with schools, clubs, and Age Grade teams in their provinces. I am very much looking forward to working with these two highly motivated individuals and I have no doubt they will add great value to our environment at Connacht Rugby.”
 
Peter Smyth, Head of Elite Player Development at the IRFU says:
“It is great to get another two young coaches appointed to important pathway positions. They have garnered experience in the club and schools game as well as with provincial representative teams. Their experience of working with young players and their knowledge of the club and schools landscape will be beneficial in their new roles.”
 

As Elite Player Development Officer for Connacht Rugby, Colm Tucker is at the heart of the development of young adult rugby players in the province.
 
Along with his day-to-day work with the Connacht Academy, Tucker is also forwards coach of the Ireland U20s setup who, while they have been disrupted by COVID, have strung some impressive results together in the last two years of the U20 Six Nations.
 
ConnachtRugby.ie spoke to him about his work with the international setup, his job with the Academy and what Connacht supporters can look forward to in the years ahead.
 

You’ve been an Elite Player Development Officer since last August. Tell us what the role entails and what your day-to-day schedule is like in unusual circumstances.
 
My principal job revolves around identification and development of the forwards for the Connacht Academy. Day-to-day we would work on collective sessions technically, and then one-on-one sessions individually with them as well. What’s also very important is building habits with them around training and training reviews which are obviously online now, and the use of our Hudl system and Sportscode to get clips in and out to them. I also sit as part of an interdisciplinary team with my objectives and goals around the rugby department with Mossy Lawler. It’s a very holistic approach to player development – we have an Athletic Performance department, a physio department, a personal development & lifestyle department and a nutrition department so it’s a very player centred approach where we work collaboratively from the pitch out.
 
From my point of view, while my responsibility centres around rugby, all of us are working towards that same north star of making these guys professional rugby players. For instance if a player has a positional requirement like increased strength or power, then it’s about me tying in with the Athletic Performance and Nutrition teams to make sure he’s getting the right information so he can be more effective on the pitch. I’d also collaborate with Aidan O’Flynn on personal development to develop the mental aspects of their game, like a hooker having a throw process, slowing their heart rate etc. So we’re all pointing towards the same thing but it’s a very collaborative approach.
 
The last thing that closes off the loop which Eric Elwood is very big on in the Academy, is that players have something outside of rugby. One if unfortunately, they don’t make it they’ll have something to fall back on, and secondly if they do become professional players they have something to fall back on when their careers come to an end. So it’s a dynamic and challenging environment but I really enjoy the day-to-day aspect of coaching and we have strong relationships with the Professional coaches as well which is brilliant. I think the biggest strength of Connacht Rugby is its people and we have to provide accurate information to the coaches about players, and that relationship is a really strong part of Connacht.
 
You’ve been involved with the Ireland U20s for a while now as well, so how have you found that experience so far?
 
It’s brilliant. It’s the flagship team for the IRFU pathway in terms of players. It’s the last point for them to put on a green jersey before they hopefully move on to the Professional ranks in the four provinces. From my point of view I was appointed three weeks before the Argentina World Cup in 2019 so I’m very thankful to have a very supportive family at home who got behind it straight away and Connacht Rugby were the same. It is challenging and rewarding, it is demanding but it is very, very enjoyable at the same time. You’re preparing teams and players to proudly play in some of the most demanding matches they’ve ever played in.
 
While it’s competitive and you want them to perform, you still can’t take your eyes away from the fact that it’s still a pathway team and the environment has to be a massive learning environment. They’re still young, progressing and developing so there’s a dual-purpose role to it, but it’s been an unbelievable experience, first with the World Cup and then managing to secure that Triple Crown before COVID hit us last year. In terms of my own journey as a coach it’s probably been the highlight so far, and hopefully there’s much more to come.
 
There was a large number of Connacht players called into an U20 camp before the postponement of this year’s Six Nations, so that must say a lot about the work being done here?
 
The lads that we have in the U20s this year were involved in the Connacht team that were successful in the U18 interpros a few years back for the first time in 10 years. They formed the backbone of that team and it’s great to see them progressing every year. Every challenge we’ve thrown in front of them they’ve risen to it and that’s what you want to see from the players.
 
Our job is to stretch them and keep challenging them and see how they react to those stresses, and it’s our job as coaches to see if they have the minerals to be professional rugby players. So yes, even though they had that success at U18s, that came from being brilliant trainers, having a great work ethic and always wanting to get better. The U20s is the next stepping-stone for them so it’s going to be brilliant to see how they react to that environment and fight for that jersey. So I’m very excited about the potential in the group so far this year.
 
What’s the most pleasing aspect of working with that age group of young adult players from 18-21?
 
I think it’s everything. They’re like sponges in that they soak up everything, so I feel that day-to-day it’s very rewarding in watching them grow and get better. I’m also very big on relationship building. I really enjoy getting to know them, their backgrounds and what they’ve come from. I really enjoy getting to know what motivates them and involving them in their plans because I think that’s really important for the modern young man.
 
At the end of the day seeing those players succeed and train with the Pro squad if asked is a brilliant part of our job, but for me it’s also about the little things. It’s the day-to-day grind of working hard with them and all those one percenters add up to seeing them progress and move on.
 
Finally, are Connacht supporters right to be excited about what’s coming down the line?
 
Absolutely they are. There’s huge potential in our Academy at the moment. As I’ve said already it’s a group of players who have consistently met challenges that we’ve put in front of them whether that be matches or training. I think in a year or two they’re going to be knocking on the door up the line and pushing people for places which is exactly what Andy Friend and his coaching ticket want. He wants his Professional squad looking over their shoulders at the Academy lads coming up and pushing for their places which will create a better environment.
 
I think it’s also very important when talking about the Academy to also mention the work that’s being done at grassroots level with the volunteers. It’s a huge opportunity for a population of half a million people in the West of Ireland to have a professional rugby team. I worked for 9 months initially as a Coach Development Officer when I first came to Connacht and I met some wonderful people around the province and in that Club & Community department. So I’ve seen first-hand the work that goes in on the ground and the volunteers who bring kids in when they’re six or seven, and work hard with them to make them love the game. I’ve also seen the next steps when they come in the Connacht pathway at aged 15 and the work that the CDOs do with them. Getting to the Academy is then the next step in their journey.

Connacht Rugby can confirm the 16 players who have so far been named in the Connacht Academy squad for the 2020/21 season.
 
Eight players will join the Year 1 programme, five of whom are Connacht-born and were part of the Connacht squad that won the U18 Club Interprovincial Championship in 2018.
 
They are Donnacha Byrne, Hubert Costello, Eoin De Buitléar, Cathal Forde and captain Darragh Murray.
 
Joining them in Year 1 is prop Charlie Ward, lock Cian Prendergast and back row Ciaran Booth.
 
Oisín McCormack and Shane Jennings, who also featured in the U18 squad of 2018, move to Year 2 of the Academy along with Declan Adamson.
 
Year 3 features local boys Colm De Buitléar, who has recovered from a serious achilles injury he sustained last summer, and U20 Grand Slam winner Dylan Tierney-Martin.
 
They’re joined by Oran McNulty – who started at full-back in all three of this year’s U20 Six Nations games for Ireland – as well as Joshua Dunne and Seán O’Brien.
 
Further additions may be confirmed in the coming months.
 
Year 1
Donnacha Byrne
Ciaran Booth
Hubert Costello
Eoin De Buitlear
Cathal Forde
Darragh Murray
Cian Prendergast
Charlie Ward

Year 2
Declan Adamson
Shane Jennings
Oisin McCormack

Year 3
Colm De Buitlear
Joshua Dunne
Oran McNulty
Seán O’Brien
Dylan Tierney-Martin

Connacht Academy player Oran McNulty has been named at full-back for Ireland’s U20 Six Nations opener against Scotland tomorrow night.
 
McNulty, who is in Year 2 of the Academy system, is one of four Connacht players in the overall Six Nations squad alongside Joshua Dunne, Diarmuid Kilgallen and Cathal Forde.
 
Ulster Academy back row David McCann will captain Ireland as one of five players who featured during last season’s Grand Slam-winning campaign named in McNamara’s first starting XV of the Championship, alongside Charlie Ward, Thomas Clarkson, Brian Deeny and Thomas Ahern.
 
There is a wealth of experience in the pack with Clontarf loosehead Ward and Ulster hooker Tom Stewart packing down in the front row alongside Leinster Academy tighthead and vice captain Clarkson, who started all five of last year’s Six Nations games.
 
Deeny and towering Munster Academy lock Ahern are named in the second row with Sean O’Brien and Mark Hernan joining captain McCann in the back row to complete the pack, with a further three Ulster players named in the backline.
 
Lewis Finlay starts at scrum-half and continues his exciting half-back partnership with Cork Constitution out-half Jack Crowley, who pulled the strings for Ireland Under-20s in their defeat of Munster Development over Christmas.
 
Ulster Academy centre Hayden Hyde and Dan Kelly, who has come through the IQ Rugby programme, are selected in midfield, with Connacht’s Oran McNulty, Ethan McIlroy and Leinster winger Andrew Smith forming the back three.
 
Hooker John McKee won seven caps during last season’s Six Nations and U20 World Championship campaigns and is the sixth returning player named in Friday’s matchday 23, as he provides front row cover alongside Ciaran Ryan and Ryan McMahon.
 
Joe McCarthy and Alexis Soroka will hope to make a big impact off the bench if called upon, while Ben Murphy, Tim Corkery and Luis Faria complete McNamara’s first selection of the 2020 season.
 
“The players have prepared very well since we first came together before Christmas,” McNamara said. “We had an excellent camp last week in Cork and are looking forward to the challenge that Scotland will bring this Friday night.
 
“Getting back down to Irish Independent Park is exciting for all involved. It’s a fantastic venue, a really fast surface and we’re ready to get the campaign underway in front of a partisan home crowd.”
 
Tickets for Friday night’s visit of Scotland to Irish Independent Park are available here.
 
Ireland Under-20 Team (v Scotland):
15. Oran McNulty (Millfield School / Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
14. Ethan McIlroy (Methody College / Queens RFC / Ulster)
13. Dan Kelly (Kirkham Grammar / Loughborogh University / IQ Rugby)
12. Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh School / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
11. Andrew Smith (St Michael’s College / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
10. Jack Crowley (Bandon RFC / Cork Constitution FC / Munster)
9. Lewis Finlay (Down High School / Malone RFC / Ulster)

1. Charlie Ward (Tullow RFC / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
2. Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
3. Thomas Clarkson (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
4. Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
5. Thomas Ahern (Waterpark RFC / Shannon RFC / Munster)
6. Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
7. Mark Hernan (St Michael’s College / Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
8. David McCann (RBAI / Banbridge RFC / Ulster)(captain)

Replacements:

16. John McKee (Campbell College / Old Belvedere / Leinster)
17. Ciaran Ryan (Rockwell College / Cashel RFC / Munster)
18. Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College / Old Belvedere RFC / Leinster)
19. Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
20. Alexis Soroka (Belvedere College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
21. Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
22. Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC / Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
23. Luis Faria (Newpark Comprehensive / Dublin University FC / Leinster)

More at https://www.irishrugby.ie/2020/01/30/mcnamara-names-ireland-under-20-team-for-six-nations-opener/

The Connacht Eagles management team have named a 26-man squad who will travel to the United States this week for the inaugural Cara Cup.
 
The Cara Cup will see ‘A’ sides from the four provinces head to Massachusetts for a six game tournament spread across four weeks. As well as an inter-pro clash with Ulster A on Wednesday week, the Eagles will take on tournament hosts the New England Free Jacks on the opening day of the competition this Saturday 16th.
 
The Cara Cup follows on from the inaugural Celtic Cup earlier in the season when the four provinces partnered with A squads from the WRU and the SRU for a seven-game tournament.
 
Commenting on the squad announcement, Connacht Eagles head coach Mossy Lawler says the trip will be a great opportunity for players on and off the pitch.
 
“We’re really looking forward to our trip to the States for the Cara Cup. We’ve got a lot of guys with experience and some with inexperience, but ultimately everyone is travelling for a different reason so that’s where we’re going to get our hunger.”
 
“There were a lot of guys who played in the Celtic Cup who have gone on to win their first cap, so the Eagles setup in the Academy is hugely important in terms of up-skilling those players to be able to play at the next level for the province.”
 
 
CONNACHT EAGLES CARA CUP SQUAD
 
Forwards
Declan Adamson, Peter Claffey. James Connolly, Robin Copeland, Jordan Duggan, Cillian Gallagher, Cian Huxford, Conor Kenny, Joe Maksymiw (c), Sean Masterson, Neal Moylett, Jonny Murphy, Conán O’Donnell, Liam Winnett.
 
Backs
Mark Balaski, Luke Carty, Conor Dean, Colm de Buitlear, Conor Hayes, Kieran Joyce, Stephen Kerins, Hugh Lane, Oran McNulty, Sean O’Brien, Corey Reidy, Colm Reilly.
 
CARA CUP ROUND ROBIN FIXTURES (ALL TIMES EST)
 
Saturday March 16
1500: Free Jacks v Connacht Eagles @ Union Point Sports Complex, Weymouth MA
 
Wednesday March 20
1900: Connacht Eagles v Ulster A @ Union Point Sports Complex, Weymouth MA
 
Sunday March 24
1830: Free Jacks v Ulster A @ Union Point Sports Complex, Weymouth MA
 
Saturday April 6
1600: Free Jacks v Munster A @ Irish Cultural Centre, Canton MA
 
Wednesday April 10
1900: Munster A v Leinster A @ Union Point Sports Complex, Weymouth MA
 
Sunday April 14
1700: Free Jacks v Leinster A @ Harvard Mignone Field, Boston MA

Head coach Noel McNamara has announced the Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to face Italy in Rieti on Friday in the third round of the Under-20 Six Nations Championship.
 
The game kicks off at 7pm local time/6pm Irish time and will be streamed live via the Irish Rugby YouTube Channel with thanks to PwC Ireland. There are two changes to the Ireland U-20 side that claimed a 24-5 win away to Scotland last time out.
 
Munster duo Jake Flannery and Jonathan Wren complete the back-three with the centre pairing of captain David Hawkshaw and Liam Turner, the man-of-the-match against Scotland, getting its third successive outing of the tournament.
 
Corinthians hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin, who is chasing his fourth try of the Championship already, features in an unchanged front row with Josh Wycherley and Thomas Clarkson, while Charlie Ryan and Niall Murray, the second Connacht player in the pack, team up again in the engine room.
 
Martin Moloney, Scott Penny and number 8 John Hodnett combine once more in the loose forwards, with back-up provided by Ronan Watters of St. Mary’s College – one of four potential debutants on the bench. Banbridge prop Callum Reid and Munster pair Billy Scannell and Ben Healy are the other players looking to win their first U-20 caps.
 
Speaking ahead of Friday night’s clash with Italy, McNamara said:
 
We’re pleased to have won our opening two games, but the players are ambitious, and they are constantly looking for improvements in their performance, both individually and collectively.
 
“Our previous meetings with Italy have been really challenging encounters, with only one score separating the sides in our past number of games. The down week allowed for the players to get some good recovery in, as well as reviewing the Scotland game and looking ahead to this weekend.
 
“We had a really positive session with the Ireland senior side last Friday at the Aviva Stadium, so the players are now looking forward to getting back into the green jersey on Friday night in Rieti.”

 
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v Italy Under-20s, 2019 Under-20 Six Nations Championship, Stadio Centro d’Italia, Rieti, Friday, February 22, kick-off 7pm local time/6pm Irish time):
 
15. Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
14. Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster)
13. Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster)
12. David Hawkshaw (Clontarf/Leinster) (capt)
11. Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster)
10. Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster)
9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
1. Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht)
3. Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster)
4. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
5. Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht)
6. Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
7. Scott Penny (UCD/Leinster)
8. John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)

Replacements:

16. Billy Scannell (Young Munster/Munster) *
17. Callum Reid (Banbridge/Ulster) *
18. Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster)
19. Brian Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster)
20. Ronan Watters (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) *
21. Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
22. Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster) *
23. Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster)

* Denotes uncapped at Under-20 level

IRELAND UNDER-20 2019 U-20 SIX NATIONS RESULTS/FIXTURES:

Friday, February 1:

IRELAND UNDER-20s 35 ENGLAND UNDER-20s 27, Irish Independent Park, Cork

Friday, February 8:

SCOTLAND UNDER-20s 5 IRELAND UNDER-20s 24, Netherdale, Gala RFC, Galashiels

Friday, February 22:

ITALY UNDER-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Stadio Centro d’Italia – Manlio Scopigno, Rieti, 7pm local time/6pm Irish time (live Irish Rugby YouTube channel)

Friday, March 8:

IRELAND UNDER-20s v FRANCE UNDER-20s, Irish Independent Park, Cork, 7.15pm (live RTÉ Two)
Click here to buy your match ticket(s) from Ticketmaster.ie

Friday, March 15:

WALES UNDER-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Zip World Stadium, Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay, 7.05pm (live RTÉ Two)

Winger Rory Scholes and flanker James Connolly have returned from injury and are included in Mossy Lawlor’s Connacht Eagles side to face Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday (Kick Off 3pm). Scholes will join a back three that features Academy players Kieran Joyce on the opposite wing and Matt Byrne at full-back.

Out Half Andrew Deegan and Scrum Half Conor McKeon continue their effective partnership that produced back to back wins over Richmond before Christmas.

Connolly joins a strong back row featuring Sean Masterson at blindside and Paul Boyle who captains the side at number 8. It has been a big week for Academy player Boyle who made his debut for the first team in the interpro against Munster in Thomond Park last Saturday.

The two other Academy players who featured against Munster are also included in the pack. Conan O’Donnell will start at loosehead and Cillian Gallagher is in the second row, having made all his appearances for the senior side in the back row since making his debut in October.

 

Kick-off 3:00pm:

(15-9) Matt Byrne, Rory Scholes, Stacey Illi, Kieran Joyce, Adam Leavy, Andrew Deegan, Conor McKeon, (1-8) Conan O’Donnell, Dylan Tierney, Conor Kenny, Peter Claffey, Cillian Gallagher, Sean Masterson, James Connolly, Paul Boyle (Capt)

Replacements (16-22): Callum Torpey, Matt Burke, Conor Kyne, Niall Murray, Ryan Feehily, Luke Carty, Michael O’Reilly.

Members of the NUIG sponsored Connacht Rugby Academy and the Connacht Rugby sub-Academy are fundraising for children’s cancer charity Hand in Hand, this November. The young players are attempting to grow moustaches as part of the annual Movember event to raise funds for the charity.

Hand in Hand offer a range of home support services for families affected by cancer. They help to reduce some of the stress and anxiety by engaging with local professional service suppliers to provide a tailor-made package of care to suit each family individually. As part of the fundraising efforts, Good4U the official Connacht Rugby snack supplier are supporting the Academy players. The Sligo-based company are holding a 5k fun run, in Sligo town to help raise funds for the charity.

 

To make a donation to this worthy cause click here.

 

Here’s how the players have been getting on with their efforts.

 

 

 

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