France have beaten England 33-25 to be crowned World Rugby U20 Championship winners for the first time in the competition’s 11-year history.
France, playing in their maiden final, fed off the noise created by the 17,700 strong home crowd to avenge their loss to England in the Six Nations in March and cap off a remarkable year that has seen them win that title and the World Championship crown.
England suffered their second consecutive final loss after they went down by a record margin to New Zealand 12 months ago.
Hailed as the golden generation before the tournament started, Les Bleuets rose to the big occasion to deservedly come out on top in a real arm-wrestle of a game.
While number eight Jordan Joseph and centre Romain Ntamack have rightly taken many of the plaudits throughout much of the campaign, it was the front-row and the unerring boot of fly-half Louis Carbonel that did most of the damage on a day when France’s finest young players delivered the goods in one of their country’s oldest cities.
Carbonel contributed 23 of his side’s points, converting Adrien Seguret’s late try in addition to seven penalties. Les Bleuets’ other try came in the first half through flanker Cameron Woki.
Jordan Olowofela capped a fine tournament with a try at the end of each half for England, while captain Ben Curry took the game to France throughout but the continual stream of penalties against his side hurt them badly.
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There was further cause for celebration after the final whistle when the 17-year-old Joseph was named the Breakthrough Player of the Tournament.
All six matches on the final day took place in Béziers with South Africa battling back to beat New Zealand 40-30 to claim the bronze medal and Australia finishing fifth after a 41-15 victory over Argentina.
Wales finished seventh for the second year in a row after seeing off Italy 34-17, while Georgia recorded their second Six Nations scalp and their highest ever finish of ninth after beating Scotland 39-31.
The day’s opening match brought joy for Ireland and dismay for Japan, who will play in the World Rugby U20 Trophy in 2019 after losing a thrilling 11th place play-off to Ireland 39-33.
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