France secured the 2018 U20 Six Nations title on points difference after an exciting final round of games.
After England had beaten France last week, it sent the sides into this final round level on points, with France travelling to Wales and England hosting Ireland at the Ricoh Arena.
Scotland, meanwhile, were in action away at Italy. The Italians enjoyed a brilliant 45-31 victory, capping off a campaign that bar their thumping by France has proved to be a real positive for Italian rugby as they finished fourth in the table, ahead of Scotland and Wales.
England did all that they could to give themselves a chance at the title. They secured the four try bonus point win against Ireland, but they had to work for it. Ireland kept things tight through the first half but superior squad depth saw England pull away as the game wore on for a 48-15 victory.
Gabirel Ibitoye was once again the star of the show. The former Trinity School captain scored one try and made another but could easily have had a hat-trick but for two disallowed scores by the TMO, his frustration at that was etched across his face.
Ben Earl, the Saracens and former Tonbridge flanker, was another shining light. The England U20 captain was everywhere and dominated the game with his usual mix of physicality and intelligence, making tackle after tackle and showing great pace to break through the line on a number of occasions, eventually being rewarded with a late try.
Ultimately though it was not quite enough, France scoring over sixty against Scotland and over seventy against Italy, meant that England were always going to have to hope that France could not get the bonus point against Wales in the later kick off.
Wales did their best to thwart the French, but they got the job done, scoring four tries for a 24-3 victory and the Championship.
The teams now head for the World Rugby U20 Championships in June, and with those taking place in the South West of France, in Perpignan, Narbonne, and Beziers, who would back against France having a real crack at the title there.
U20 6 Nations Round 5 Results:
England 48-15 Ireland
Italy 45-31 Scotland
Wales 3-24 France
U20 6 Nations Final Table:
Home Nations’ XVs:
England U20 XV:
15 Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers), 14 Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), 13 Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), 12 Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), 11 Ben Loader (London Irish), 10 James Grayson (Northampton Saints), 9 Ben White (Leicester Tigers), 1 Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints), 2 Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), 3 Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), 4 Dino Lamb (Harlequins), 5 James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 6 Josh Basham (London Irish), 7 Ben Earl (Saracens, captain), 8 Sam Moore (Sale Sharks).
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), 17 Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), 18 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), 19 Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), 20 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), 21 Rory Brand (London Irish), 22 Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 23 Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby).
Ireland U20 XV:
15 Michael Silvester (Dublin University FC/Leinster), 14 James Hume (Banbridge RFC/Ulster), 13 Tommy O’Brien (UCD RFC/Leinster, captain), 12 Angus Curtis (Queen’s University RFC/Ulster), 11 Angus Kernohan (Ballymena RFC/Ulster), 10 Harry Byrne (UCD RFC/Leinster), 9 Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf FC/Leinster), 1 Jordan Duggan (Naas RFC/Leinster), 2 Eoghan Clarke (Wanderers FC/Leinster), 3 Jack Aungier (St. Mary’s College RFC/Leinster), 4 Matthew Dalton (Malone RFC/Ulster), 5 Jack Dunne (Dublin University FC/Leinster), 6 Joe Dunleavy (Malone RFC/Ulster), 7 Matthew Agnew (Ballymena RFC/Ulster), 8 Jack O’Sullivan (UCC RFC/Munster).
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen FC/Munster), 17 James French (UCC RFC/Munster), 18 Tom O’Toole (Banbridge RFC/Ulster), 19 Ronan Coffey (Shannon/Munster), 20 Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC/Connacht), 21 Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University RFC/Ulster), 22 Conor Dean (St.Mary’s College RFC/Leinster), 23 Sean O’Brien (Clontarf FC/Leinster).
Scotland U20 XV:
15 Paddy Dewhirst (Ayr), 14 Logan Trotter (Stirling County), 13 Fraser Strachan (Northampton Saints), 12 Stafford McDowall (Ayr, captain), 11 Kyle Rowe (Glasgow Hawks), 10 Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks), 9 Charlie Chapman (Gloucester), 1 Shaun Gunn (Edinburgh Accies), 2 Paul Cairncross (Glasgow Hawks), 3 Finlay Richardson (Edinburgh Accies), 4 Ewan Johnson (Racing 92), 5 Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians, vc), 6 Martin Hughes (Heriots), 7 Rory Darge (Melrose), 8 Devante Onojaife (Northampton Saints).
Replacements: 16 Bradley Clements (Ealing), 17 Nathan McBeth (Lions), 18 Murphy Walker (Strathallan School), 19 Marshall Sykes (St Joseph’s College/Northampton Saints), 20 Connor Boyle (Stewart’s Melville College), 21 Kaleem Barreto (Marr), 22 Mark New (Glasgow Hawks), 23 Sam Yawayawa (Glasgow Hawks).
Wales U20 XV:
15 Tommy Rogers (Scarlets), 14 Joe Goodchild (Dragons), 13 Corey Baldwin (Scarlets), 12 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets), 11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets), 10 Cai Evans (Ospreys), 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys), 1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), 2 Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues), 3 Rhys Henry (Ospreys), 4 Alun Lawrence (Cardiff Blues), 5 Max Williams (Dragons), 6 Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers, captain), 7 James Botham (Cardiff Blues), 8 Taine Basham (Dragons).
Replacements: 16 Will Griffiths (Dragons), 17 Josh Reynolds (Dragons), 18 Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), 19 Rhys Davies (Bath), 20 Lennon Greggains (Dragons), 21 Harri Morgan (Ospreys), 22 Callum Carson (Ospreys), 23 Rio Dyer (Dragons).