Tbilisi Cup 2015: Emerging Ireland make 10 changes for Uruguay

Rhys Ruddock continues to captain the development side as they face test against Rugby World Cup outfit

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
emergingireland5003
Ireland put through their paces during the captain's run in Tbilisi Photo: GRU

Allan Clarke has made 10 changes to his Emerging Ireland side to take on Uruguay in their second match at the 2015 Tbilisi Cup on Wednesday afternoon.

After their comfortable 25-0 win over Emerging Italy last Saturday, a quick turnaround sees them take on the Rugby World Cup outfit, who lost 19-10 to hosts Georgia at the weekend.

Although there were some positives from opening fixture, there were also a number of areas that we know we will need to improve to keep progressing in this tournament.

Allan Clarke

The South Americans are using the tournament as preparation for their World Cup campaign that will see them take on England, Wales, Australia and Fiji in Pool A and are expected to pose more of a threat than a young and inexperienced Italy side.

But Ireland’s development side also have one eye on a potential tournament-winning showdown with Georgia on Sunday, which partly explains why Clarke and assistant Girvan Dempsey have made so many changes for this match.

Captain Rhys Ruddock is one of just five survivors from the opening game, continuing at blindside flanker, with Ulster’s Frankie Taggart coming in at openside flanker and Connacht’s Eoghan Masterson at number eight as Dan Leavy and Jack Conan drop to the bench which has a six-two split between the forwards and backs.

The front row sees Munster tighthead prop Stephen Archer joined by his fellow Munster prop James Cronin and Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan, with Denis Buckley and Rob Herring on the bench, while Munster lock Billy Holland is joined in the engine room by Connacht’s Andrew Browne, who comes in for new team-mate Ben Marshall.

Connacht winger Matt Healy keeps his spot on the left wing with Ulster’s Peter Nelson in at full-back and Leinster youngster Cian Kelleher in on the right wing for as Tiernan O’Halloran and Andrew Conway dropping out of the match-day 23.

London Irish centre Eoin Griffin keeps his place at outside centre with Leinster’s Noel Reid in at inside centre in place of Stuart McCloskey, who also drops out of the 23.

Munster youngster Rory Scannell replaces his former provincial team-mate JJ Hanrahan at outside-half with Connacht scrum-half John Cooney starting after an impressive appearance as a second-half replacement against Italy with Hanrahan and Luke McGrath the only backs on the bench.

Ulster prop Andrew Warwick, who was yellow carded in the second half against Italy, keeps his place on the bench.

“First and foremost our thoughts are with the citizens of Tbilisi,” Clarke said.

“We have luckily been unaffected by the adverse weather conditions and we are thankful to the Georgian Rugby Union for their hospitality and consideration during what is undoubtedly a very difficult and upsetting time.

“This game offers a further opportunity for those within the squad to show that they can compete at this level.

“Although there were some positives from opening fixture, there were also a number of areas that we know we will need to improve to keep progressing in this tournament.”

Emerging Ireland: Peter Nelson (Ulster); Cian Kelleher (Leinster), Eoin Griffin (London Irish), Noel Reid (Leinster), Matt Healy (Connacht); Rory Scannell (Munster), John Cooney (Connacht); James Cronin (Munster), Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Stephen Archer (Munster), Andrew Browne (Connacht), Billy Holland (Munster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster, captain), Frankie Taggart (Ulster), Eoghan Masterson (Connacht).

Replacements: Rob Herring (Ulster), Denis Buckley (Connacht), Andrew Warwick (Ulster), Ben Marshall (Connacht), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Jack Conan (Leinster); Luke McGrath (Leinster), JJ Hanrahan, Northampton Saints).

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