National pride to fore as six Buccaneers touch rugby youth players selected for Ireland

Pictured are Buccaneers Youth Touch Rugby Internationals, l-r, Philip Finnan, John Finnan, Alex Connor, Molly Copelin, Aoife Purtill, Niamh Purtill.

Pictured are Buccaneers Youth Touch Rugby Internationals, l-r, Philip Finnan, John Finnan, Alex Connor, Molly Copelin, Aoife Purtill, Niamh Purtill.

A number of young Buccaneers touch rugby players were selected to participate in the Atlantic Youth Touch Cup which took place in Nottingham recently.

Comprising international youth teams from Europe with those from the Atlantic region and further afield, Buccaneers Touch were fortunate to have six players selected for participation in the inaugural hosting of this competition.

Philip Finnan, John Finnan, Niamh Purtill, Alex Connor and Molly Copelin were named on the Ireland Mixed U15s team, while Aoife Purtill was selected for the Mixed U18s squad. Philip, John, Niamh and Aoife had previously played on the successful U15s team in 2022 which won a bronze medal at the European Championships in Vichy.

The Mixed U15s started their campaign with an 11-5 defeat against an outstanding French side who ended up winning the tournament outright. Ireland would have been disappointed with the result but this was a high quality game with both side showing plenty of skill and flair.

Ireland achieved a resounding 16-1 win over an inexperienced Chinese side in their next outing, defeats against Wales and England interspersed with wins over Belgium and the Cayman Islands. The Mixed 15s then faced a straight shootout against the United States for a place in the semi-finals, duly dispatching the Americans 5-3 to qualify for the final four fixture.

The team faced England in the semi-final. They had run the hosts very close the previous day, losing 10-7 with some crucial decisions going against them, so they felt confident of causing an upset. However, a strong England team lifted their game and won 12-7. Ireland were then into a bronze medal match against Wales and came very close to securing a medal, losing 7-6 at the game's conclusion.

The Mixed U18s had a good start to the competition drawing 6-6 against Wales, the eventual champions, before thrashing Scotland 11-2. They went down 16-9 to France before they faced South Africa in a crucial game which would go a long way towards deciding who made the semi-finals. This proved to be a controversial encounter with South Africa triumphing 7-5 in wet and mucky conditions. Two crucial refereeing errors cost Ireland dearly as South Africa scored after the referee missed a clear infringement while at the other end Ireland had a perfectly good try incorrectly ruled out.

All was not lost however as both sides still had one group game left to secure a semi-final spot. Ireland needed a favour from their Celtic neighbours and the Welsh didn’t let them down, beating South Africa 12-4 to eliminate them from the tournament.

The Mixed 18s then faced England in the semi-final encounter. They put in their best performance of the tournament but suffered an agonising 10-9 defeat. They then produced another big performance in the bronze medal game, but again fell short losing 10-8 to France.

All associated with Buccaneers Touch Rugby is extremely proud of these six exceptional young players who acquitted themselves so well over the four days of competition. Between them they scored a whopping 32 tries, indicating the huge contribution they made to their respective teams. John Finnan with 13 tries and Aoife Purtill with nine tries were top scorers for their respective teams. Well done to John, Philip, Niamh, Alex, Molly and Aoife!

Those who fancy giving youth touch rugby consideration and trying to emulate such international stars, are encouraged to participate in weekly sessions each Wednesday from 7pm at Buccaneers RFC.

See Buccaneers Touch Rugby on facebook or Buccaneers_rfc on Instagram for more information. All are welcome to come along and play.

 

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