The four members of Dublin University Football Club (DUFC), Trinity’s rugby club, will represent Ireland at the Under 20 Rugby World Championships tournament this summer, taking place in Georgia from May 31st until June 18th.
Backs Colm Hogan and Jack Kelly and Prop Charlie Connolly have all featured for the squad before at this year’s U20 Six Nations, while back Michael Silvester joins a number of players called up to the panel for the first time.
The format for the competition will see the top four teams from each of the three pools progress to the knockout stages in Tbilisi. Ireland, who finished as runners-up to England in the same tournament last year, face Italy in Kutaisi for the opening match of their campaign on May 31st. They then face Scotland on June 4th, before a potentially decisive clash with New Zealand on June 8th.
Hogan and Connolly both featured in Ireland’s one-point victories over Scotland and Italy in this years Under 20 Six Nations, which should give the side a psychological edge. While Kelly picked up an injury which kept him out of the action in a crucial defeat to Wales, DUFC’s young guns acquitted themselves over the course of the tournament.
However, New Zealand come into the tournament after an excellent season which saw them win the Oceania Rugby Championships at a canter. With an experienced squad, featuring seven veterans of last years tournament, the All-Blacks will test Ireland’s title credentials thoroughly.
In a statement to Irish Rugby, Head Coach, Peter Malone, said: “It’s an exciting time for these players, as they will all be experiencing a World Championship for the first time. It’s a great opportunity for them, to go out and pit themselves against their peers from around the world.”
Meanwhile, news of the call-ups should come as a welcome boost to DUFC, who survived a steep learning curve and a raft of injuries during their first-ever season in the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League (AIL). Hogan has been a fixture on the wing all season, scoring vital tries for the students, while Kelly, Connolly and Silvester represent the wealth of talent and potential at Coach Tony Smeeth’s disposal ahead of next years AIL action.