There will be a new World Rugby under-20 champion this year after the defending champions, New Zealand were knocked out of the competition by host nation France in the semi-final this morning.
France claimed a 16-7 victory to reach the final where they will play England, who will play their sixth consecutive final at the under-20 championships. The last time England failed to make it the final was 2012. They will be looking to win a fourth title after just beating South Africa 32-31 in their semi-final.
In a battle of attacking power, it was a defensive stalemate in the first half with just a penalty goal to Louis Carbonel in the 30th minute seperating the sides. France had failed to convert previous opportunities and opted to finally get on the board. It could’ve been more going into halftime as they blew a try, knocking on with the line in sight following a cross-kick.
They did manage to find the first try early in the second half through centre Romain Ntamack which put New Zealand in a 10-point hole. The dominant French pack then piled on the pressure at scrum time, earning a penalty which Carbonel kicked to take the lead out to 13-0.
France continued to accumulate points and furthered their lead in the 63rd minute to 16-0, putting the game three scores out of reach of the Kiwis.
New Zealand finally ignited their attack to cross in the 70th minute through first-five Harry Plummer out wide, but it was all too late as the French held on to another famous victory.
New Zealand under-20 captain Tom Christie couldn’t put the blame on mistakes, giving praise to a strong French side.
“I don’t think we can credit (the loss) to our own mistakes,” he said
“I’m immensely gutted at the result but far from disappointed at the effort from our lads. My lads played with a lot of heart and a lot of pride.
“It was really tough out there. That’s just credit to the French, they are an amazing outfit and when you make mistakes they will punish you.
France will play their first ever final at the world under-20 championships while New Zealand will play the third/fourth playoff against South Africa.
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