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The Ireland U20s verdict on making semi-final without playing Australia

By Liam Heagney
The Ireland versus Australia match on Tuesday was cancelled (Photo by Carl Fourie/World Rugby)

Willie Faloon has claimed Ireland had mixed emotions about how they were declared winners of Pool B at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa. The Irish, who had nine points after two matches, were due to take on Australia, who had six points, on Tuesday in the final round of the group stage at the tournament.


However, inclement weather in the Cape Town region left the rain-sodden Athlone pitch in an unplayable condition by the time of the 2pm local time kick-off and a decision was taken by the organisers to cancel the match.

This resulted in the awarding of two points to each team, an outcome that left Ireland on top of the pool and qualifying for this Sunday’s semi-finals at DHL Stadium.

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It is the second successive semi-final qualification for the Irish but while they played their way into 2023’s last four with two wins and a draw in three matches, they have progressed this year having won two matches and now had the other game cancelled.

“It’s a bit of a mixed emotion,” said Faloon to RugbyPass. “Happy to be in a semi-final but the lads are pretty disappointed they didn’t get to play today.


“We thought we had a bit of a point to prove. It wasn’t our best performance against Georgia (a last-minute 22-16 win), so the guys were really up for this game. They were looking forward to it. Australia are a very good team. It was a really good opportunity for us to go out and put a performance in… It’s a tough competition and to be in the top four, the guys are going to take that with two hands.”

Asked what he made of the conditions in Athlone, Faloon added: “It’s wet, it’s very, very wet. These decisions are always very hard. It didn’t come down to our decision, it’s the one we were given.


“There is a lot of disappointed guys (that we didn’t get to play). As I said, we put a lot of effort into this build up and the guys were really looking forward to it. They are a little bit disappointed.

“Everybody wants to go out and have a fair, level playing field. It would have been the same for both sides. Obviously, we played Italy and Georgia and they played Italy and Georgia, it’s just the way it lay and it was coming down to this game.”

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Ruby 13 days ago

I'm not sure why South Africa is hosting 2 years in a row but the results are making it look like a good decision to overlook them for the RWC.

Ruby 13 days ago

I guess the rain's down in Africa.

Brian 13 days ago

The pitches in South Africa for this WC are a disgrace. We have bad weather in the UK but the pitches are now largely first class.

Dan 13 days ago

Easy to solve the problem.

Stop hosting international events in third world countries that are clearly unequipped to do so.

Second year in a row they’ve made a mockery of the U20 by having 💩 facilities.

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