BEZIERS – Hosts France were crowned World Rugby Under-20 Championship winners on Sunday, lifting the distinctive trophy for the first time following a 33-25 defeat of England before a sold-out crowd in Béziers.
France coach Sébastien Piqueronies said: “It’s a squad win, staff and players. We were focused, we worked a lot and it’s a great award for all of the work that we have done.
“We were very united. It’s a moment of history, we wanted to win for ourselves, for this group of players and staff. We are very proud of what we have done.”
England coach Steve Bates said: “We were just a bit ill-disciplined at times and kept giving them the chance to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
“We knew that they were going to be tough at this ground, with this sort of support, so really proud of the performance from our guys but we just let them creep ahead too much.
“They’ll see it as a fantastic experience, a very valuable one for them in the future. Not many of them will come to a stadium like this and be in this sort of atmosphere very often, certainly not before now and maybe not much after.
“They’ll reflect on it and say that ‘we gave it our best shot but we were not quite good enough on the day but what a great experience this whole thing has been'.”
France, playing in their maiden final, fed off the cacophony of noise created by the 17,700 strong 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.
It was a second final loss in a row for England after they suffered a record loss to New Zealand 12 months ago in Georgia, but both sides played their part in an enthralling conclusion to the premier age-grade competition.
There was further cause for celebration for France after their 17-year-old number eight Jordan Joseph was named the Breakthrough Player of the Tournament in association with Tudor.
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 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 Under-20 Trophy in 2019 after losing a thrilling 11th place play-off to Ireland 39-33.
All Sunday's play-off results:
Third place: South Africa 40 New Zealand 30
Fifth place: Australia 41 Argentina 15
Seventh place: Wales 34 Italy 17
Ninth place: Georgia 39 Scotland 31
11th place: Ireland 39 Japan 33.
Your final standings at the #WorldRugbyU20s
African News Agency (ANA)