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U20s must not fail next crop, insists O'Brien


Clear aim: Tommy O'Brien is out to avoid relegation
Clear aim: Tommy O'Brien is out to avoid relegation

By John Fallon

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

A fourth defeat in this year's tournament in France, a 45-29 hammering on Tuesday 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 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.

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 loss.

"It was pretty sombre, very disappointing. Too many individual errors, dropped balls and not sorting things out," he said.

"It is what it is and we have to win that last game and ensure the future for next year is safe.

"We have a massive job in the coming days, we can't afford to sulk. We have got to make sure we get that final win and make sure relegation doesn't happen."

Belfast Telegraph


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