France beat England to claim historic World Rugby U20 Championship title

France fly-half Louis Carbonel kicked 23 points to inspire his side to a maiden World Rugby U20 Championship title with a thrilling 33-25 victory over England.

France fly-half Louis Carbonel kicked 23 points to inspire his side to a maiden World Rugby U20 Championship title with a thrilling 33-25 victory over England.

Les Bleuets had not contested a final in the competition previously but put on a dominant display in front of vociferous support in southern France to claim the famous win.

The French led in Béziers for almost the entire 80 minutes with Cameron Woki’s first-half try and Carbonel’s boot cancelling out Jordan Olowofela’s score to create a 14-8 lead at the break.

An entertaining second half saw Olowofela grab a second after replacement Joe Heyes had touched down for England, but Adrien Seguret’s try and Carbonel’s accuracy from the tee sealed the win.

“We’ve won the final against England and it’s just a dream,” said France playmaker Romain Ntamack. “It’s been very difficult to believe all through this tournament but this is very good.

“England played a very hard game and are a very good team, we defended a lot but we showed solidarity and we won the match.”

England began their sixth consecutive U20 Championship final in the hunt for a fourth title and in confident mood after beating Les Bleuets 22-6 at the same ground in the 2018 Under-20s Six Nations.

But the match at Stade de la Méditerranée began with early scrum dominance for Les Bleuets and a three-pointer registered by fly-half Carbonel, who had shaken off a knock sustained against New Zealand to start.

Carbonel made it 6-0 on 20 minutes and Marcus Smith replied from the edge of the 22, before a spell of French pressure saw Bordeaux-Bégles’ Woki go over in the corner despite the attentions of Gabriel Ibitoye and Joel Kpoku.

Just after the half-hour Smith missed a long-range penalty but Carbonel made no mistake minutes later as he converted the eighth penalty conceded by England.

England wing Olowofela struck back with a crucial score after a delightful miss-pass by centre Tom Hardwick, touching down in the corner.

Carbonel took his tally to 12 after the break and made it 20-8 on 55 minutes after another dominant French scrum.

The fly-half grabbed sixth and seventh penalties either side of a Smith reply to create a 15-point cushion going into the final ten minutes.

The young English side threatened a comeback on 73 minutes as replacement front row Heyes powered his way over the line from short distance.

But minutes later Seguret touched down a classy effort under the posts to mean the impressive Olowofela’s late score came too late for England.

“I’m pretty gutted to be honest,” said England captain Ben Curry. “They’re a great team and that’s why they won it, they took their opportunities.

“We maybe weren’t clinical enough and penalties killed us but fair play to the French team, they were the better side.

“To get to the final you’ve got to play well, we’ve not performed well in this game but I don’t know how many players our age can say they’ve played in front of 20,000-odd people.

“When it comes to the seniors this is a great experience for the lads and we’ll learn from it.

“It’s been a really good tournament, not many people spend three weeks away from their club and we’ll definitely take it as a learning experience.”


Earlier in the day Ireland rounded off their campaign with a 39-33 victory over Japan that sealed 11th place and a spot in next year’s Championship.

Ireland built a lead in the first half with tries for Peter Sylvester, Dan Sheehan and Jonny Stewart, with Tommy O’Brien powering over in the corner late on to complete the victory.

Logan Trotter registered a double for Scotland while James Miller and Kyle Rowe also scored tries, but they were unable to prevent their side going down 39-31 to Georgia to finish tenth.

Wales and Italy faced off for seventh place, with the Azzurrini having beaten the Welsh for the first time at this level in March but unable to prevail in Beziers as they went down 34-17.

Giovanni D’Onofrio had scored a hat-trick against Australia in their play-off clash and got one more against Wales, but Dan Davis and Ryan Conbeer were on the scoresheet for the Welsh in a four-try win.