France captain Arthur Vincent could not hide his pride at his teammates after they retained their World Rugby U20 Championship title with victory against Australia.
Les Bleuets became just the third team after New Zealand (2008-11) and England (2013-14) to win the crown back-to-back with a dramatic 24-23 triumph in the final in Rosario, Argentina.
Fly-half Louis Carbonel was the star of the show once again for the champions, kicking 14 points including the winning penalty with 15 minutes left to play at the Racecourse Stadium.
And France skipper Vincent was fulsome in his praise of his team after they bounced back from conceding the second-fastest try in U20 Championship final history after 49 seconds.
“It is an unbelievable feeling, I am very, very happy and proud of this team,” he said. “Thanks to all the team and the staff and the support we had.”
France were not the only Six Nations side to finish the World Rugby U20 Championship on a high, with England beating Wales 45-26 in their fifth-sixth place final.
The Red Rose raced into a 28-0 half-time lead with tries from Josh Hodge, Will Capon, Joe Heyes plus a penalty try following Wales centre Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler’s deliberate knock-on.
Wales responded after the break and closed the gap with scores for Jac Morgan, Dewi Lake, Ed Scragg and Rio Dyer, only for England to hit back through Fraser Dingwall and Ted Hill.
England’s margin of victory was boosted by the flawless Hodge, who converted five tries and a penalty, and head coach Steve Bates was happy with his side’s response after losing their opening game of the tournament to Ireland.
“The guys played really well in that first half, took their opportunities well and that gave us a nice cushion at the break and put us in a commanding position,” said Bates.
“It’s hugely important to finish well, we wanted to make sure we won as many games as possible and the winner of the final will only have won as many as we have, which is four out of five.
“I hope the players will learn some important lessons for the future about how important it is to turn up and perform in every game and we will look back with regret at this tournament the fact we didn’t do that in our opening fixture against Ireland.”
Elsewhere, the Under-20s Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland went up against New Zealand in the seventh-place play-off but a second-half rally was not enough to prevent a 40-17 defeat.
Ireland’s captain Charlie Ryan said: “I’m disappointed with that last game. We just didn’t show up for the first half and when you go down against the All Blacks you lose.
“I’m proud of that second-half performance from the lads – they really dug in. I’m proud of the whole tournament. A lot of stuff didn’t go our way.
“But we’re really proud of the way the lads got stuck in and gave it their all. I couldn’t ask for more from the lads.”
Italy scored 22 unanswered points to beat Georgia 29-17 in their final game of the tournament to finish in ninth – a performance that delighted captain Davide Ruggeri.
“I’m very happy, this is an honour for me to play with my guys, play with my brothers,” said the Italian skipper. “This is not a team, this is my family.”
Meanwhile, Scotland closed their World Rugby U20 Championship with a 59-34 defeat to Fiji, which saw them demoted to the U20 Trophy competition.
Scotland captain Connor Boyle said: “This game was the most important game of some of our lives. Scotland had never been relegated before, but we weren’t on the money.
“Credit to Fiji, they played their hearts out but it’s very disappointing for us.”