England U18 will not be able to defend their U18 European Championship crown after losing 23-19 to host nation France in the semi final.
Down 13-5 at half time, a try from Myerscough College loosehead Jake Pope their only first half score, England fought back well in the second half, scoring tries though Alex Mitchell of Lymm High School and Josh Caulfield of Bicton College, however France kept the scoreboard ticking over with thirteen points from the boot to keep England at arms length.
This will not be Englandâ€™s final game of the competition though, they will face Italy in the third place play offs after the Italians drew 6-6 with Georgia in the other semi final, eventually falling 5-4 in a penalty shoot. Italy will be no pushovers in that third place play off though, having beaten Wales in the first round, who beat England in their final warm up game ahead of this competition.
Georgia, oddly, will compete in the final having not yet actually won a game in the competition, having drawn against both Ireland and Italy but winning both games via the penalty shootout.
Englandâ€™s match against Italy will take place on Saturday 4th April at 15.00 in Toulouse.
Speaking after the semi final defeat, England U18 Head Coach John Fletcher said:
“We knew France would be a tough opposition and that was proved right this evening. Against a team of France’s quality, you can’t afford to give them the chances we did and that cost us. We couldn’t maintain enough pressure on France for long enough periods.â€
“But despite the score line I was pleased with the effort from the players; they didn’t let up and we were pushing hard for a try at the end. They are disappointed with the result, however the players will learn from it and produce a good performance in our last game this weekend.”
Â England U18 XV:
15. Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby, Millfield School)
14. Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins, Wellington College)
13. Dominic Morris (Saracens, New Hall School)
12. Max Malins (Saracens, Felsted)
11. Paolo Odogwu (Leicester Tigers, Leicester Grammar School)
10. Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish, Abingdon School) (C)
9. Alex Mitchell (Sale Sharks, Lymm HS)
1. Jake Pope (Sale Sharks, Myerscough College)
2. Dan Frost (Bath Rugby, Filton College)
3. Charlie Capps (Prince Henryâ€™s, Yorkshire Carnegie)
4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs, Bicton College)
5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, Haileybury College)
6. Archie White (Harlequins, Epsom College)
7. Will Allman (Northampton Saints, Trent College)
8. Zack Mercer (Bath Rugby, Merchiston Castle School)
16. Curtis Langdon (London Irish, St Pauls Sunbury)
17. Oliver Dawe (Exeter Chiefs, Bicton College)
18. Jack Edmondson (Bath Rugby, Sherborne)
19. Tim Cardall (Northampton Saints, Moulton College)
20. Joe Craggs (Newcaslte Falcons, Gosforth Academy)
21. Will Ewans (Leicester Tigers, Wyggeston & QEI College)
22. Jack Maunder (Exeter Chiefs)
23. Mark Dixon (Sale Sharks, Lymm HS)
24. Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie, Prince Henryâ€™s)
25. Gabrial Ibitoye (Harlequins, Trinity College)
26. Johnny McPhillips (Newcastle Falcons, Sedbergh School)