The appearance of a number of current Under 20s players in the AIL and on provincial A sides has caught the attention of many onlookers. The Ireland Under 20s are 2 from 2 as I write this, and by the time this goes to print will have played what could be the championship decider against an incredibly strong Italy side. The future of Irish rugby is unquestionably bright; but who are the players to watch for the future?
It would be foolish to overlook the obvious number one choice: Scott Penny. The Ailesbury Road educated openside has already racked up four starts for the Leinster Senior Team. Not bad for a 19-year old, eh? Surely he is followed closely by David Hawkshaw, the Clontarf centre who is currently the Ireland U20s captain and Liam Turner, who partners him at 13.
But what about the less obvious choices? We here, at UCD are privileged to be surrounded by an abundance of rugby playing talent, playing both with and outside of the college. Michael Milne plays his rugby here in UCD. The prop made an appearance for the Ireland U20s against both England and Scotland. Harry Byrne, now playing with Lansdowne also attends here. The fly-half’s kicking game has been instrumental for the Ireland U20’s and he will surely feature for Leinster in the near future. Both Hugo Conway and Cormac Foley, who play their rugby at St. Mary’s, also deserve between them they have made an impressive total of appearances for Leinster ‘A’. Foley has made 2 appearances for the Ireland Under 20s; and will likely make an appearance against Italy.
The rise and rise of the Ireland underage and academy teams show the schools’ game is as strong as ever, and that the academy system is proving its worth. The golden era of Irish Rugby looks set to continue.
By Matthew Dillon – Sports CoEditor