RugbyLive Blog

FT Ireland 14 France 50: Under-20 Rugby World Championship final

Ireland fall short as France make it three in a row. Follow the action as it happened ...


So that’s that ... Ireland fall well short in the final, after a grueling tournament. But they have been a credit, in dealing with huge challenges on and off the field. At the end of which they looked exhausted against a powerful opponent.

Reaching the country’s second ever final at this grade Ireland have beaten Australia and South Africa, after back to back Grand Slams. Irish rugby is in a good place and we will see a lot more of plenty of these players. But French rugby is certainly in a good place too. Three in a row!

Keep your eye on the homepage for John O’Sullivan’s match report.

Thanks for joining us!


FT Ireland 14 France 50


Ireland captain Gus McCarthy: “They put us in a place we’ve never been in before. Things didn’t go our way but we held our heads up high and never gave up.

“Our lineout struggled and full credit to the French, they obviously did their analysis. We stuck together no matter what and we will stick together, it just wasn’t to be.”


FT Ireland 14 France 50 Ireland are outscored in the second half 33-0. France are world champions for the third time in a row at this grade. Just too powerful in the end.


Ireland 14 France 50 (79′) As they did in their semi-final against England, France have come out in the second half and destroyed Ireland. They take the conversion quickly in the hope of getting another try, they can see how tired Ireland are here. Leo Drouet with this one, after more huge breaks and missed tackles.


Ireland 14 France 43 (75′) France captain Nouchi gets another try at the end of a move which started in their own 22. Prendergast lined him up as last man but he ran over him. Ireland are physically and mentally emptied here, and this is a cruel ending to a brilliant tournament.


Ireland lose their own lineout in the French 22. France try to run it out but Ireland just about gather the chip and chase and they have it again in the French half.


Ireland 14 France 36 (70′) Another French try. Some flashy offloads but some very weak Irish defence too as Ferte runs over a green jersey for number five. The conversion from the touchline drifts wide.


Ireland showing great spirit to power their way into the French 22. They lose it at the breakdown but win it back straight away. But then, after all that, France win it back with a counter ruck. From the subsequent attack Costes plays a delicate little chip over the top. Ireland are offside and give away a penalty. But Reus misses it this time.


Ireland 14 France 31 (60′) Replacement Sam Berman comes up with a big turnover as France come again with some more menacing offloads. Prendergast’s penalty and a solid lineout bring Ireland to halfway.


Both sides looking very tired. Hardly surprising after so many games over the past five weeks. The outhalves trade awful kicks, then Ireland rip the ball back in the tackle, the French do likewise seconds later before Ireland concede a penalty.


Ireland look completely rattled, they try to keep it alive with some risky offloads as they enter the French half, but an eventual knock on gives the French possession back. After 55 minutes it’s still Ireland 14 France 31.


Ireland find themselves in a promising position but the move is ended as the referee spots a side entry. The resultant France penalty brings them to halfway.


Ireland 14 France 31 (45′) Try number four, Ireland are being blown away here! Nicolas Depoortere crosses over.


Ireland 14 France 24 (42′) The second half is underway. France start as they finished the first half with the man advantage. Hooker Pierre Jouvin gets their third try at the end of a powerful maul. The conversion follows.


HT Ireland 14 France 17 France are denied a try by the TMO. A clever move from the penalty by them, but it was chalked off for obstruction. And that’s it for the opening half! Ireland fell apart following their second try but are very lucky not to be further behind after those last few minutes!


France make about 12m with a powerful lineout maul. Tuilagi knocks on but they had a penalty advantage and come again. This time Paddy McCarthy is shown a yellow for pulling down the lineout maul. Ireland are under pressure here approaching the interval ...


Ireland 14 France 17 (35′) What a response by France. Ireland fail to secure the restart and from there France sniff blood. From the scrum, Tuilagi takes a few Irish tacklers with him and then Lino Julien drives over for his team’s second try. Too easy from an Irish point of view.


Ireland 14 France 10 (31′) Ireland salvage a sloppy lineout and power over the line with a penalty advantage (offside) but they are held up. They then tap and go, with little joy but they quickly change the point of attack. They’re almost there and then John Devine finds a soft shoulder and dives over!! TRY!! Prendergast adds the two points.


The French counter from their own half but are denied a breakaway by a forward pass. Ireland win a free-kick from the resultant scrum and opt for another scrum. This time they are awarded a penalty (France wheeling the scrum) and Prendergast kicks into the corner.


A promising Irish attack, launched off a solid lineout, is ended by a sloppy knock on. The resultant French scrum is a good one and they clear into the Irish half.


Ireland 7 France 10 (22′) Ireland are penalised for going offside ahead of the ball, and Hugo Reus nails the penalty from close range.


A poor French kick goes all the way over the dead ball line and Ireland have a scrum just outside the French 22. France however steal it and clear their lines. It’s still level after 20 minutes.


Ireland 7 France 7 (14′) Stemming from an Irish lineout, France break away for their opening try after a beautiful move. Paul Costes made the initial break and after some wonderful offloads Mathis Ferte crosses over. The conversion is good too.


Ireland 7 France 0 (13′) A sliced kick gives the French a lineout just outside the Irish 22. They secure it and drive through a few phases. Nouchi is then tackled just short of the line. France do power over through Nicolas Depoortere but they are held up. Prendergast then hangs up the goal line drop out and Brian Gleeson comes up with a jackal penalty. Brilliant stuff.


Some good defensive pressure by Ireland following a good French lineout and Ireland then get a bit of a let off with France penalised for crossing.


Ronan Foxe is penalised for not rolling away and the French kick the resultant penalty from halfway into the Irish 22.


Ireland 7 France 0 (5′) TRY! No double movement there, and Prendergast taps over the conversion. What a start!!


Ireland are awarded a penalty after a high tackle and they kick for the corner. The lineout is well gathered and they come around the corner. Ireland are awarded another penalty then as France stray offside. Quick thinking by Fintan Gunne who taps and goes and squeezes over the line. TMO is having a look ...


Ireland 0 France 0 (1′) GAME ON! Sam Prendergast’s kick-off is gathered easily in the French 22 and Henry McErlean then collects the French clearing kick at pace on halfway and Ireland come with their first attack ...


The teams are out on the field in Cape Town, both looking very relaxed. Paddy McCarthy gives the trophy a touch as he runs out by it! National anthems incoming and then we will be underway!!


One of the crucial head to head battles which could determine the outcome this evening, is between the two number eights ...


This Irish squad have faced a lot of tragedy as well as triumph over the past few weeks. The tragic deaths of Andrew O’Donnell, Max Wall and Greig Oliver cast a long shadow, and they’ll be playing for many people this evening but their team-mates Jack Oliver and Hugh Cooney may top the list ...


South Africa – who Ireland beat in their semi-final – have beaten England – who were beaten by the French in the other – 22-15 in the third place playoff in Cape Town.


45 minutes until kick-off ...


Team news

There’s been just one change to the Irish team after their semi-final win over South Africa. Ballymena’s James McNabney returns after suspension with Diarmuid Mangan switching to the secondrow.

For France this is a very different side to the one which Ireland defeated in the Six Nations. Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Emilien Gailleton are currently preparing with the senior squad for the World Cup. Also coming into the side since that defeat are 149kg Posolo Tuilagi (son of former Leicester Tigers, Perpignan and Samoan international, Henry) and hooker Pierre Jouvin.

Route to the final

Ireland drew the opening game with England, a match they should’ve definitely won.

They went on to beat Australia 30-10, before a big win over Fiji booked their spot in the semi-finals. There they enjoyed a 31-12 win over South Africa.

The French topped Pool A with a big win over Japan, a 21 point win over New Zealand and another comfortable victory against Wales. They came from behind then to crush England in the second half of their semi-final clash.


It’s the final time of asking for a group that has represented their country with fortitude, character and belief with perhaps enough in reserve to push them to the pinnacle of age-grade rugby

Check out John O’Sullivan’s preview in full below ...


There are some interesting family connections in this Irish squad ... prop Paddy McCarthy is a brother of Leinster and Ireland secondrow Joe McCarthy. Talented outhalf Sam Prendergast is a younger brother of Connacht and Ireland backrow Cian Prendergast, while wing Andrew Osborne is the younger brother of another Leinster prospect, Jamie.

Replacement secondrow Evan O’Connell is the nephew of Ireland legend Paul O’Connell, he started the opening game against England and against Fiji, and is eligible again next season.


Ones to watch

Ireland’s 1998 triumph produced Brian O’Driscoll and Donncha O’Callaghan. The 2004 Under-21 side contained Tomas O’Leary and Jamie Heaslip, while James Ryan captained Ireland to their last Under-20 decider in 2016. A team which also contained Andrew Porter and Hugo Keenan. Among the star performers on this current Irish side are prop Paddy McCarthy and number eight Brian Gleeson ...

Paddy McCarthy

Brian Gleeson


John O’Sullivan has done some Trojan work covering this Irish team, throughout their Grand Slam winning campaign, and this Under-20 World Championship. Here’s a guide to the squad he put together previously ...


Under-20 World Rugby Championship Final: Ireland v France, Athlone Stadium, Cape Town, Friday, 6.0 Irish time (Live on Virgin Media)

IRELAND: H McErlean (Terenure); A Osborne (Naas), H Gavin (Galwegians), J Devine (Corinthians), J Nicholson (UCD); S Prendergast (Lansdowne), F Gunne (Terenure); P McCarthy (Dublin University), G McCarthy (UCD, capt), R Foxe (Old Belvedere); D Mangan (UCD), C O’Tighearnaigh (UCD); J McNabney (Ballymena), R Quinn (Old Crescent), B Gleeson (Garryowen).

Replacements: M Clein (Garryowen), G Hadden (Clontarf), F Barrett (Corinthians), C Irvine (QUB), E O’Connell (UL Bohemian), O Cawley (Naas), M Lynch (Dublin University), S Berman (Dublin University).

FRANCE: M Ferte; L Drouet, N Depoortere, P Costes, T Atissogbe; H Reus, B Jauneau; L Penverne, P Jouvin, Z Affane; H Auradou, P Tuilagi; L Nouchi (capt), O Jagou, M Gazotti.

Replacements: T Lacombre, L Julien, T Duchene, B Liufau, M Castro Ferreira, L Carbonneau, A Mathiron, C Mondinat.

Referee: Damián Schneider (Argentina).


Some well wishes for the Irish team ...


Hello and Welcome ... Richie Murphy’s team take on France this evening aiming to become the first Ireland side to win the Under-20 World Championship. Ireland come in as back to back Grand Slam champions, taking on a French team they beat 33-31 in Musgrave Park en route to their most recent success. This would be Ireland’s second ever rugby World Cup triumph, following Declan Kidney’s team’s win over France in the 1998 Under-19 final.

Since then they’ve lost an Under-21 final in 2004, and the 2016 Under-20 final to New Zealand and England respectively. Looking to go one step further, Ireland take on two-time defending champions France at the Athone Stadium in Cape Town. Kick off is at 6pm (Irish time).

We’ll be providing build-up and updates throughout the evening. Keep in touch via the comments section or on Twitter (@DonoghueEamon) but for now, let’s get started!