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Ireland U20 international Scannell signs for French club Biarritz

The 19-year-old hooker joins after a season in the Munster sub-academy.

IRELAND U20 INTERNATIONAL Billy Scannell has signed for French Pro D2 club Biarritz.

19-year-old Scannell, the younger brother of senior Ireland internationals Niall and Rory, has joined the former Heineken Cup finalists after spending a season in Munster’s sub-academy.

Billy Scannell Scannell at senior Munster training earlier this year. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Scannell, who played club rugby with Young Munster in Limerick last season, has signed a two-year academy contract with Biarritz.

He is set to train full-time with the Pro D2 outfit’s senior squad, while initially playing games for the club’s espoirs [U23] team.

The Cork native made his Ireland U20 debut against Italy during this year’s Grand Slam success in the Six Nations, having previously represented his country at U18 and U19 levels.

The former Presentation Brothers College student helped his school to Munster Schools Senior Cup success in 2017.

Scannell joined the Munster sub-academy after finishing school in 2018 but, having been overlooked for a full academy spot with his native province, has now moved to France to pursue a professional career. 

Billy Scannell Scannell playing for a Munster Development team last year. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

Should Scannell stay with Biarritz beyond the terms of his two-year contract, he could qualify as a JIFF [Joueurs Issus des Filières de Formation] player if he completes three years in the club’s academy.

JIFF status is a major advantage for players in France, with changes to league regulations in recent years ensuring clubs will need to field more JIFF players in their matchday squads in the coming seasons.

Biarritz – who missed out on last season’s Pro D2 play-offs by four points – have also signed Dave O’Callaghan and James Hart from Munster this summer, meaning Scannell will have familiar faces around him in the southwestern seaside town.

Scannell is not the first young Irish player to make the move to France, with fellow Cork youngsters Eoghan Barrett and Ben Roche having signed for Top 14 side Pau’s academy last year.

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