Wicklow duo to the fore
Clarkson and Foley are key
AS Ireland bid to salvage their World Cup Under20 championship, two Wicklow players are expected to form a crucial part of their squad for this afternoon’s (Wednesday) final group game with Italy.
Having gained a tremendous opening game victory over England, the Irish boys with an injury ravaged side, lost out 45-17 to Australia in Santa Fe, Argentina, but having been forced the play the final 60 minutes when reduced to 14 players after Ryan Baird’s red carding for what was deemed a dangerous head high tackle.
While the 14 players battled on, energy level finally gave way in the closing stages, as Australia put their numerical advantage to full use running in late matchwinning trials.
Former Wicklow RFC member Thomas Clarkson provided the strength in the front row, battling with a depleted pack, while Newtown’s Cormac Foley came on as a second half substitute being forced to play out of postition as the Irish ran out of defender replacements.
Prop Clarkson has played an integral role in Ireland’s set piece dominance against England and against Australia until the seven man pack were overwhelmed with fatigue in the closing stages.
The 19-year-old, the second youngest player in the squad, is now Noel McNamara’s first choice tighthead for the championship, as he has managed to offset the size differential with a sound scrummaging technique, as evident against England’s Olly Adkins, who has three first team appearances for Gloucester under his belt.
Now they will be seeking a victory over Italy which they hope would be sufficient to keep their championship aspirations alive, for the Grand Slam champions still feel they can impact the championships despite being ravaged by injuries.
Former Wicklow RFC member Thomas Clarkson.