Ballyhahill's Ben ready to answer Ireland's call

Ballyhahill's Ben ready to answer Ireland's call

BEN Betts has come a long way, from his early days playing rugby at Shanagolden-based Estuary RFC to being included in the Irish U-20s squad for their recent stunning 6 Nations victory over England.

Tighthead prop Betts will hope to make his Irish U-20s debut in Friday night’s Round 4, 6 Nations clash with Italy at Donnybrook, 7.35pm. Live RTE2.

On Saturday, Betts, whose family live in Ballyhahill, turned in a tour de force display for Young Munster in the vital Ulster Bank League  victory over UCD at Clifford Park.

Another key member of Munsters’ squad is Betts’ team mate with Ireland U-20s Shane Fenton who has featured off the bench for the side in this season’s 6 Nations.

Betts first taste of rugby came playing Community Games rugby. From there the highly regarded young prop joined Estuary RFC.

Betts said: “I started playing tag rugby in the Community Games. I went to Esturay when I was very young about eight years old.

"I suppose the coach saw after a few games that I had a big of a drive in me. He said that because the club didn't have a senior team or an U-18s team, he told me to go a club in the city. He suggested Young Munster and that's where I went. I have been here since.

"I am in the Munster Sub-Academy and am studying at UL, English and History with the hope of becoming a lecturer, or a sports journalist.”

Dynamic prop Betts has represented Munster at Youths, U-19 and U-20s level, while the has played for Ireland at U-18 and U-19 level.

"I was third choice tighthead prop with the Irish U-20s initially this season. Now, I am the sub tighthead and hopefully I can push on from here.”

Last month the Ireland U-20s blitzed England with 20 unanswered points in the second half to claim a famous 26-20 win at Kingson Park.

Betts said: “Against England it was unbelieveable. It was a great feeling to go over there and beat them on their own turf. That is hard to do, an unforgettable moment.

“I was itching to get on, but unfortunately I didn’t get any gametime.

“My mom was saying that she was in a local pub at home watching the England game and everyone was watching, cheering, hoping I would come on. There was great excitement.”

“Playing with Young Munster in the Ulster Bank League is unbelievable. When you win against a team like UCD it makes it all worth it.

“The dream is to play with Munster obviously in the future. As a tighthead it takes time to develop. Hopefully that will come with time.”

Betts will also be hoping to feature for Ireland U-20s in the Junior World Championship this summer. 

“If I keep playing away here at Young Munster, getting 70 or 80 minutes on a regular basis, it will help put my hand up for selection for the Junior World Championship this summer. That is all I can do.

“It has been my dream to play for Ireland in the 6 Nations and the World Cup.”