Monday, July 22, 2024

Ireland U-20s qualify for Junior World Cup semi date against England after match cancelled but Aussies are not happy

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Ireland were pipped to the Six Nations title by England, with this weekend’s rematch at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town (3.30 Irish time) set to be another tight affair following the 32-32 draw between the two sides earlier this year.

The cancellation of the clash with the Junior Wallabies meant Ireland were unable to finish higher than third seeds, with New Zealand finishing as top seeds and England’s last-gasp defeat over hosts South Africa ensured they ended up as second seeds. New Zealand will take on defending champions France in the second semi-final.

Pool leaders Ireland were due to take on second-place Australia at the Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town at 1.0 today. However, torrential rain in South Africa resulted in a waterlogged pitch.

Despite attempts by the ground staff to clear the pitch, the decision was made to cancel the game on safety grounds, and given the condensed nature of the tournament, the match will not be replayed at a later date.

World Rugby issued the below statement, confirming both teams would receive two match points each, enough to secure Ireland’s passage to this weekend’s semi-final.

“Due to heavy rainfall in the Cape Town region on Tuesday 9 July, the pitch at Athlone Stadium has been assessed in partnership with organisers and match officials and currently declared not safe to play.

Today’s Sports News in 90 Seconds – 9th July

“As a result, the first match scheduled at this venue between Ireland U-20 and Australia U-20 has been cancelled and as per the tournament rules, both teams have been awarded two competition points.

“The pitch will be assessed again ahead of the two remaining World Rugby U-20 Championship matches due to take place at this venue and will only go ahead if the weather conditions improve, and the pitch is sufficiently drained for rugby to be played in safe conditions.

“Another update will be provided in due course.”

Willie Faloon’s youngsters had won their previous two pool games and held a three-point lead over Australia, who could have overtaken them. But Ireland can now look forward to a last-four showdown, as they finished top of Pool B on 11 points.

Given that the knockout stages are scheduled to also be held in Cape Town, tournament organisers will be hoping for more favourable weather conditions over the coming days.

Australia head coach Nathan Grey was not happy with the decision, as he told RugbyPass: “Bitterly disappointed for the players, the staff and everyone. The decision has been taken out of our hands and we don’t get the opportunity to play Ireland and finish on top of our pool.

“We played two games in the Rugby Championship this year, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and ourselves in much worse conditions, but a strong push from the Irish doctor seemed to work with World Rugby around cancelling the game.

“Look, it is what it is, the decision has been taken out of our hands and we are just going to have to cop it.

“The boys are shattered. We were very well prepared for this game, [and] had a great week training. Trained in worse conditions two days ago at False Bay and the boys were well prepared to play, so it’s an opportunity that has been taken out of their hands. I am sure World Rugby are doing it for the right reasons, I just hope they are true.

“Look, play the game. The conditions are fine. The surface water is not really that bad. Yeah, it’s boggy, it’s wet, but no worse than any conditions Ireland have played in before and certainly we have played in before.

“The conditions were probably better than what we played our game against Italy in, so it’s a bit confusing.”

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