Under-20 Six Nations: France 6 England 22

PUBLISHED: 12:41 10 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:41 10 March 2018

England's Ben Earl dives in to tackle a French rival (pic Ben Birchall/PA)

England's Ben Earl dives in to tackle a French rival (pic Ben Birchall/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Saracens’ Ben Earl captained England U20s to victory over previously unbeaten France in Beziers as they got their Six Nations campaign back on track.

Having suffered their first defeat of the 2018 tournament against Scotland in round three, after two bonus-point victories against Italy and Wales, England sealed victory over France in a gripping encounter.

They now head into the tournament finale against Ireland at the Ricoh Arena next weekend with their title hopes still alive.

England led 10-3 at the break through Cameron Redpath’s try, which Tom Hardwick converted, along with an earlier penalty after France had taken an initial lead through the boot of Romain Ntamack.

Hardwick and Ntamack traded penalties but a further score from England’s number 10 extended the lead to 16-6.

In the final minutes, Hassane Kolingar and Pierre-Henry Azagoh were red carded for a dangerous tackle and two further Hardwick penalties sealed victory.

France, who had secured three bonus-point victories so far, started well and despite an early penalty miss for Ntamack, he made no mistake soon after from just inside the halfway line.

England wasted a good opportunity to drive a maul to France’s line but lost possession and soon after Hardwick missed a chance to level the score.

France spent a concentrated period of time in England’s half but failed to extend their lead and, after going through a series of phases, the hosts were penalised and Hardwick sent over a penalty to level the scores.

Captain Earl broke through France midfield to set up an England score with Steve Bates’ side recycling out wide and Redpath was on hand to go over in the corner. Hardwick added the extras to give England a 10-3 lead at half time.

After the break, a great kick and chase resulted in France being penalised and Hardwick kicked the first points of the second half to give England a 13-3 lead.

A sustained period of pressure, in which France were camped on England’s line, eventually saw them penalised and, as a result, Earl was sin binned for collapsing the maul and the hosts kicked to the corner. However, France spilled the ball from the resulting lineout.

A further France penalty was again kicked to the corner but great England defence from the maul kept the home side out.

Ntamack reduced the score to 13-6 with a penalty on 66 minutes, as Earl returned to the field, but Hardwick restored the 10-point advantage before late red cards for France ended any hope of a comeback for the hosts. Two further penalties from the boot of Hardwick secured the victory.

Bates said: “It was a really big Test match, which had the feel of a big game and to come here to Beziers and win in France against France is a significant result.

“We still made some errors in the first 20 minutes and we know we can get better, but the side is developing all the time and that is crucial. The overall performance though was very good.

“We’ve got lots of our game in place, but we know we can add a bit more continuity and fluidity to the way we play. We end our tournament against Ireland and we know that is going to be a difficult game, but we haven’t seen the best of our exciting backline yet and we are going to give Ireland our best shot.

“It’s not just about that one game though, it’s important we look at the development of the side over the whole tournament and we have given a lot of players the opportunity to play and that will stand us in good stead in the future.”

England U20s: 15. James Grayson (Northampton Saints), 14. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), 13. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), 12. Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks), 11. Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers), 10. Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), 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. Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), 6. Josh Basham (London Irish), 7. Ben Earl (capt) (Saracens), 8. Sam Moore (Sale Sharks). Replacements: 16: Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), 17: Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), 18: Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints), 19: James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 20: Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), 21: Rory Brand (London Irish), 22: Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 23: Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby).

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News


Harry Redknapp is currently taking part in the latest series of I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

Yesterday, 17:22

England boss Gareth Southgate has hailed Harry Kane after the Spurs forward grabbed a late winner to send the impressive Three Lions through to the UEFA Nations League finals.

Yesterday, 16:15

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.

Yesterday, 16:09

Arsenal maintained their 100 per cent FA WSL record with a 4-0 win over Everton in Southport.

Yesterday, 15:58

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s PLAYER RATINGS

Yesterday, 15:51

Hendon made their longest ever League trip, to Tiverton on Saturday, and returned to London with a point from a goalless stalemate.

Yesterday, 13:01

Wingate & Finchley endured a frustrating afternoon at Nyewood Lane after slipping to defeat to Bognor Regis Town – despite twice taking the lead either side of the break.

Yesterday, 10:48

Arsenal want to be part of any discussions on a future European Super League, but deny they would break away from the Premier League it a new competition comes to fruition.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now