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'At some stage we have to start doing, rather than just trying to learn all the time'

Nigel Carolan frank as Ireland U20s fall to a second successive defeat.

James Ryan:
James Ryan: "You can tell he is going to be a fine player."
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

TWO GAMES INTO the Under 20s Six Nations Championship, Ireland’s class of 2016 have recorded two defeats. After last night’s bruising encounter that saw his side lose by a margin of 34-13 in Narbonne, head coach Nigel Carolan is frank in his assessment of what needs to be done.

The “game of two halves” cliché could be easily applied to the fixture played in Pro D2 side RC Narbonne’s home of Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié as Ireland produced a spirited display to end the first half 17-13 down.

On each occasion the visitors scored a try, both by second rows Peter Claffey and captain James Ryan, Les Bleuets quickly replied.

“I thought even though we had a pretty efficient first half, our maul worked well and every time we got some chance we seemed to take it. Unfortunately, we just let them back in too easily,” says Carolan.

It would seem nippy wing Gabriel N’Gandebe’s try on the stroke of half time rattled the young Irish. The visitors failed to score in the second stanza, while their hosts managed to double their points tally.

Carolan speaks with candour on the concept of a learning curve.

Look, we have been speaking about learning but at some stage we have to start with the doing, rather than just trying to learn all the time. For most of those guys it is a big step, but it is one where they are finding their feet and they are growing as the campaign goes along.

The Connacht Academy manager continues in this vein of praise and pragmatism.

“I thought our fellows fought right until the end. Without singling anybody out but James Ryan led from the front and you can tell he is going to be a fine player.

But I thought physically, it is just such an attritional game, to try to handle that for 80 minutes is a bit of a challenge.

Ireland’s Under 20s have two weeks to regroup before meeting reigning champions England in Newcastle’s Kingston Park. What is coach Carolan’s message to his players as they hunt their first win of the campaign?

“Let’s keep going, let’s keep our feet on the ground, and let’s keep working hard together.”

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France too strong for Ireland with dominant performance in Narbonne

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Kate Rowan

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