Ireland will show up at next year’s u20 World Cup in South Africa, despite making noises to the contrary earlier in the season. Perennial champions NZ are pooled with Fiji, Wales and Samoa while Ireland face hosts South Africa, England and Italy in their group.
A number of players have made their mark in the tournament before going on to full representative honours and it provides a testing ground for aspiring coaching teams and players. Ireland reached the final of the u21 version with Jamie Heaslip leading the charge and took home the u19 version under Declan Kidney. Brian O’Driscoll first made his mark on the international stage in that competition. Since then, Ireland haven’t fulfilled the suggested promise of the Six Nations but the annual format of the tournament provides ample opportunity for young lads to make a name for themselves.