Cork Con duo French and Wren head to Argentina along with UCC's John Hodnett for the World Championships

Cork Con duo French and Wren head to Argentina along with UCC's John Hodnett for the World Championships
Cork Constitution's Jonathan Wren and Neil Cronin of Garryowen. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

CORK CONSTITUTION'S talented duo Sean French and Jonathan Wren will be part of Noel McNamara’s 33-man squad who head to Argentina this week to take part in the U20 Rugby World Championships.

The duo, along with John Hodnett of UCC are three Cork lads who will travel with the squad for what is expected to be a tough test.

Deputy President and Registrar of UCC Professor John O’Halloran with John Hodnett. Picture: Tomas Tyner.
Deputy President and Registrar of UCC Professor John O’Halloran with John Hodnett. Picture: Tomas Tyner.

Ireland are riding the crest of a wave at the moment after securing a historic Six Nations grand slam earlier this year.

They face a tough group, however, just like in the Six Nations, their first match will be against England before they take on recent Oceania champions Australia who overcame New Zealand 24-0 to clinch the title earlier this month. 

McNamara’s side will round off the pool stages with a clash against Italy.

Cork Con’s French and Wren have been making massive strides over the years and for Wren, who only joined Cork Con this season, he looks back on a memorable season to date.

“It’s been unbelievable so far this season and I’ve been very privileged to be part of such a great team at Cork Con,” said Wren. 

"The support we got in Cork was special and it really drove us on all season. 

"I’m looking forward to the World Championships in Argentina which is obviously my main focus at this time. 

"After that, we’ll be back into pre-season so I’ll be looking forward to being back training with Munster and hopefully that will lead into another good season.” 

Starting out with Crosshaven at the age of four, Wren, although dabbled in a lot of sports such as soccer, GAA and athletics. Rugby was always his preferred choice, and even determined what school he would attend: Pres. 

Here, he gained a lot of success and developed as a player which led to many great things for the 20-year-old full back.

“I was very lucky with the opportunity to go to Pres and be involved with such a great bunch of lads and coaching throughout my time there. 

"We won the Senior cup in 2017 and that would have been my highlight while in Pres. I played Munster U17s, U18s and U19s and I was also involved with the Ireland U18s and U19s before this year being involved with the Irish U20s. 

"It’s been a great experience so far and I have developed as a player with every side I have played on, whether it was school or club.” 

With five caps at this year’s grand slam and a remarkable year with Cork Con winning a Munster senior cup and All-Ireland league, Wren’s goal is to one day play professional and that could be sooner than expected.

For French, growing up as a neighbour of Peter O’Mahony, was enough motivation to drive him on to success in the world of rugby.

Sean French tackled by Jack Power of Clontarf. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Sean French tackled by Jack Power of Clontarf. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

“I didn’t need to look too far for motivation, growing up as a neighbour to Peter O'Mahony certainly opened up my eyes to the sport, further enhancing my desire to follow in his footsteps. 

"My grandfather Gerry Murray would have been the primary role in my love for the game, playing for both Munster and Barbarians himself, he certainly showed great interest in my early days development as a young schoolboy player, mainly overlooking me while enjoying my early years in presentation brothers college playing as an outside back in the centre or in the back.

“I first began playing rugby as a four or five-year-old, probably pretending I was a year older to jump in with the older lads in Cork Constitutions minis on Saturday mornings. 

"There, little did I know at the time, but I happened to make life long friends right from the beginning.

“I probably first realised I had a bit of potential in the sport when I was called up to the Munster U18 schools team a year out of my age at just 15 years of age." 

That was after being seen perform in a junior cup campaign where they came up short in the semi-final against local rivals CBC. 

"I was then lucky enough to start and play in three campaigns of the Munster Schools Senior Cup while in Pres, winning the senior cup in 2017 in Thomond Park being the biggest highlight of my school rugby career, beating Glenstal Abbey 11-3 in the final and scoring all the points is certainly something I’ll remember for life. 

PBC’s Sean French is tackled by Glenstal Abbey’s Rory Clarke. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
PBC’s Sean French is tackled by Glenstal Abbey’s Rory Clarke. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

"Playing in Thomond that day as well as numerous occasions with Munster representative sides both U18 schools and U19 respectively has certainly driven my long life ambition of running out in Thomond Park in a red jersey.

“My first year out of school in the system has been great, it was fantastic to be involved in every game in the Celtic Cup with the Munster As in my first year out of school, something I probably wouldn’t have thought I’d do first leaving the school gates of Pres. 

"There was never any doubt that I’d be joining Cork Con as my club when leaving school, luckily it was a great decision that I had made to join back to my roots. 

"Winning a Munster senior cup in Thomond Park against rivals Garryowen and an AIL medal in the Aviva Stadium in my first year of club rugby still feels pretty surreal, with one of each in my back pocket already feels great but I’d still need another bag full to catch up with my grandad Gerry and all the honours he collected along the way in his long career at Constitution. 

"I don’t think I’ll ever catch up with him!

"2019 has been a bit of a roller coaster thus far, as well as the two club honours with Con I was lucky enough to be involved with the Irish U20s campaign that won the six nations. 

"Playing two home games in a green jersey in a sold out Musgrave Park Is something that I’ll never to again and is something that I’ll bring with me to my grave. 

"Now my focus is on next week’s tournament in Argentina. 

"Each day I’m learning and enjoying my time playing the sport I love, with my achievements thus far it brings expectation, which is pressurizing, but that being said I don’t see the position I’m In as being a pressure, I view it as a privilege.“ 

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