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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 22 January, 2020

Ireland lose two more players for remainder of U20 World Championship

Ciaran Booth and David McCann are the latest casualties of a gruelling campaign for Noel McNamara’s side.

BOTH CIARAN BOOTH and David McCann have been ruled out of the remainder of Ireland’s U20 World Championship, further stretching Noel McNamara’s resources as the injuries continue to mount.

Sale Sharks flanker Booth suffered a tournament-ending knee injury in the pool victory over Italy on Wednesday, while Ulster’s McCann sustained a head knock and will now follow the return to play protocols.

Jake Flannery after the game Ireland have been decimated by injuries. Source: Pablo Gasparini/INPHO

Booth was stretchered off during the first half in Sante Fe after being hit by an Italian player from the side of the ruck whilst in the jackal position, in the latest incidence of a dangerous and reckless clearout causing serious injury and going unpunished. 

A scan will determine the extent of the 19-year-old’s injury, while fellow back row McCann will also return home as, because he is still 18, must follow an extended 23-day return to play process, rather than the standard six-day protocol.

The loss of two more players is another blow for McNamara’s side ahead of their fifth-place play-off semi-final against England on Monday evening [KO 7.30pm, eir Sport], having been hit by a spate of injuries throughout the tournament.

John Hodnett, Sean French, Iwan Hughes and Stewart Moore have already gone home, while the likes of Scott Penny and captain David Hawkshaw were ruled out before the squad flew to Argentina.

“In terms of our priorities now, today is a travel day, so really it’s about rest and recovery, mental as well as physical,” McNamara said. “It has been a pretty gruelling three games, huge physical tests. It’s about resting, recovering and renewal of energy for the challenge that lies ahead.”

Pool victories over England and Italy were not enough to see Ireland through to the tournament semi-finals, as the round two defeat to Australia proved costly in their quest to reach the last four.

Rob Rusell Rob Russell in action against Italy. Source: Pablo Gasparini/INPHO

The Grand Slam winners recorded a bonus-point win over Italy but were unable to build up enough of a points difference in the game to give themselves an outside chance of progressing through as the best pool runner-up, as France advanced through. 

“When you look at the game, it’s important to take it in the overall context,” McNamara continued, reflecting on his side’s 38-14 win over their Six Nations rivals.

“It was a bonus-point win against a Six Nations opponent and a winning margin of 24 points. Obviously, we were keen to put as many points as possible on board and for large parts of the game, we played as well as we possibly could have.

“There were lapses in concentration either side of half-time to allow the Italians grow back into the game a little bit. I thought we recovered our composure pretty well and created opportunities at the end, but unfortunately, we didn’t put them away.”

As the squad travel to Rosario for the playoff stages, McNamara added: “We’re pretty knowledgable of England, particularly this year. It’s the third instalment of a three-Test series. We’re really looking forward to that challenge.”

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Ryan Bailey

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