U20 Six Nations Title Wide Open after Grand Slam Hopes Ended for France

U20 Six Nations
France's Maxence Lemardelet (R) runs with the ball during the Six Nations U20 rugby union match between France and England on March 9, 2018 at the Mediterrannee Stadium in Beziers, southern France. / AFP PHOTO / SYLVAIN THOMAS (Photo credit should read SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

This year’s U20 Six Nations title will come down to the wire on the final day of the competition. It was left wide open after France lost 22-6 to England and Ireland were victorious 30-25 over Scotland on Friday night.

Both France and England are equal on 15 points with Ireland on 12 Wales not far behind on 10. Ireland will travel to Coventry to face England and France will be up against the Welsh.

U20 Six Nations Title Wide Open

Had England not suffered defeat in Scotland, a grand slam would surely be on the cards. A win over France was perhaps more surprising, given Les Bleuets performances against Italy and Scotland.

But with talk of grand slams over for another year, focus will be on securing the title. France and England are the front runners, but Ireland and Wales are still in with a slim chance of winning the trophy. Advantage will be with England; a home tie against Ireland will work more in their favour than France travelling to Wales.

But there wasn’t just surprise in France. Italy secured their first win of the competition away at Wales – 18-7. Italy will have no impact on the outcome of the competition, but the Azzurrini have undoubtedly been building since their opening round loss to England.

Ireland, Wales Remain in Contention

The Irish looked unlikely rivals to be in with a chance of an U20 Six Nations title after their opening round defeat to France. A second loss to Wales should have left them out of contention, but with England and France suffering defeats, there’s still a glimmer of hope.

It goes without saying that they both have to win their final games, but they will have to be big wins. The English and French have established a healthy points difference. Despite that difference currently favouring the French, it’s not impossible for Wales to have saved their best performance for last. England showed on Friday night the French aren’t invincible, but whether both Ireland and Wales can score four tries and grab wins will make for a fascinating finale.

Double Red Card Overshadows French Defeat

France were undoubtedly favourites going into their tie against England. Having scored 23 tries in their first three rounds gave a lot for England to think about defensively. England’s defeat in Edinburgh meant they were no longer grand slam contenders, but would inevitably come out fighting.

That they did. And in some style. England stopped France scoring a try and were reduced to just six points. A solo Cameron Redpath try gave England the much needed four points. However two red cards in the last 10 minutes for Hassane Kolingar and Pierre-Henri Azagoh overshadowed the game. Their double tip tackle on England centre Fraser Dingwall left the referee no other options. The game was already won at that point but a rare and shocking situation nonetheless.

Welsh Favours needed for England

For England to have any chance of securing a second successive U20 Six Nations title, they will need to call on the help of Wales.

It’s not often seen in rugby tournaments nowadays, but with France narrowly ahead of England on points difference, other results will be needed. Wales will need to stop France taking away any points – a losing bonus point could be all France need.

A win for England with maximum points will be the sole focus as they prepare for their final game in Coventry on Friday night. There’s no doubt Wales will bring their ‘A game’ too.

With the U20 Six Nations title in prospect, the final game will be a fascinating affair.

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