U20 Six Nations Preview: Ireland Vs France
Last year’s top two face off as Ireland welcome France to Musgrave Park on Friday for a potential 2023 Under-20 Six Nations title-decider.
An Ireland win by one point against the French at this stage 364 days ago made all the difference as they went on to clinch the Grand Slam.
Ben Brownlee’s last-minute try and Charlie Tector’s subsequent conversion snatched a dramatic 17-16 victory for the visitors and Les Bleuets almost suffered a repeat last weekend.
Italy’s Andrea Bruniera could not convert after Matthias Douglas crossed in the 83rd minute to leave the scoreline teetering at 28-27 to France.
Musgrave Park is now officially sold out for Friday night's U20 Six Nations showdown between Ireland and France! 🟢— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 9, 2023
Check out the best pics from the Ireland Captain's Run in Cork ⬇️#FutureIsGreen | @PwCIreland
Ireland had a less nerve-inducing start to their campaign, as fly-half Sam Prendergast kicked 12 points in a 44-27 win over Wales at Stadiwm CSM.
But French boss Sébastien Calvet has called up the cavalry for their encounter on Friday evening, including Émilien Gailleton, France’s only returning player who started the 17-16 thriller in 2022.
After Ireland’s win over Wales, Richie Murphy has made just one alteration to their starting XV, with Henry McErlean, scorer of the visitors’ sixth and final try, coming in for Ike Anagu.
James Nicholson moves to the wing for McErlean to feature at full-back, and hooker Gus McCarthy retains the captaincy.
Player of the Match against Wales Brian Gleeson keeps his spot at No.8, with the forward pack completely unchanged.
Prendergast was a star of the Ireland team in last year’s Championship and will hope to add more points to his growing tally from fly-half playing alongside Leinster teammate Fintan Gunne at No.9.
Meanwhile, Calvet has rung the changes in the Bleuets’ starting line-up, with seven young stars stepping into the side including Gailleton at centre and full-back Louis Bielle-Biarrey.
There is a switch at scrum-half too, with Léo Carbonneau combining with fellow Brive youngster Tom Raffy.
Marko Gazzotti and Oscar Jegou come into the back row for their first starts of the Championship, while Hugo Auradou partners Brent Liufau at lock.
The final alteration sees Louis Penverne replace Hugo Parrou at loosehead.
Ireland: 15. Henry McErlean, 14. James Nicholson, 13. Hugh Cooney 12. John Devine, 11. Hugh Gavin, 10. Sam Prendergast, 9. Fintan Gunne; 1. George Hadden, 2. Gus McCarthy (c), 3. Paddy McCarthy, 4. Diarmuid Mangan, 5. Conor O’Tighearnaigh, 6. James McNabney, 7. Ruadhán Quinn, 8. Brian Gleeson
Replacements: 16. Danny Sheahan, 17. George Morris, 18. Fiachna Barrett, 19. Evan O’Connell, 20. Jacob Sheahan, 21. Oscar Cawley, 22. Harry West, 23. Rory Telfer
France: 15. Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 14. Théo Attissogbe, 13. Nicolas Depoortere, 12. Émilien Gailleton, 11. Enzo Benmegal, 10. Tom Raffy, 9. Léo Carbonneau; 1. Louis Penverne, 2. Barnabé Massa, 3. Zaccharie Affane, 4. Hugo Auradou, 5. Brent Liufau, 6. Oscar Jegou, 7. Lenni Nouchi, 8. Marko Gazzotti
Replacements: 16. Thomas Lacombre, 17. Luca Tabarot, 18. Maïno Pakihivatau, 19. Bastien Chinarro, 20. Mathis Castro Ferreira, 21. Hugo Reus, 22. Arthur Mathiron, 23. Mathis Ferté