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Short, sharp sessions to keep Ireland Under 20s fresh to face the world's best

Plenty of time for analysis instead of expending energy between games.

THE RIGOURS OF rugby’s Junior World Championship don’t come close to being disguised.

Despite the age grade players increasingly filling the physical criteria of fully-grown men, they play their fixtures in a remarkably short window.

Lorcan Dow dejected Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

From tomorrow’s tournament kick-off against Argentina in Parma, to the final matchday on 20 June, successful teams will be asked to play five games in just 18 days. Three in that space of time would be a tough ask.

First things first, Ireland must compete  and complete three pool fixtures in eight days, with Scotland and New Zealand completing the group.

The majority of Nigel Carolan’s squad come in to this tournament after a rest period on the back of involvement in the Ulster Bank League season. They are feeling fresh and ready and it’s just as well, because a tournament format like this means there can be no room for cramming. The hard work is done, rest and recovery will be the key focus of the medical team.

More than anything [the last fortnight has] been a gym phase this period,” scrum-half Nick McCarthy explained to The42 before flying out to Italy.

Nick McCarthy dejected Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We probably needed that as well, in some collisions we were getting dominated a bit. Hopefully that will stand to us when we come in, but the last two months have been good to us. So I think we’re ready to go.”

McCarthy’s fellow UCD clubman Billy Dardis is preparing for his first World Cup as a first choice player having sat behind Cian Kelleher (who played for Ireland against the Barbarians on Thursday) last summer. The lessons he took from that tournament, though, will hold true.

“Once you get in-season in competition, the volume goes down and the intensity goes up. In the World Cup the sessions are short and sharp. I learned last year that you have to keep things short and sharp because it’s about being physically ready for the game. But also, mental preparation will play a huge part, your head plays a huge part in recovery.”

Part of that mental preparation will include intense video analysis of their own game and their opposition. While there may be no substitute for experience on the field, togging players out for hours on end is counter-productive. They will maximise their short times on the pitch by making sure every man is clear about the role they need to perform.

“There won’t be a huge amount of volume,” Dardis adds, “the intensity will come in the games.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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