Rugby Union: England head for rocks: French expose frailties in 18-Group international

Click to follow
The Independent Online
England Schools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

France Schools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

ENGLAND are so strong - meaning both in numbers and in the literal, physical sense - at under-18 level that what may be about to happen is more or less unthinkable. If the class of '93 lose to the Irish in Belfast next Wednesday, it will be England's first four-match whitewash, writes Steve Bale.

Coming after a Grand Slam season in 1992, that is a perversity and, whatever may have caused earlier defeats by Wales and Scotland, Mark Denney's team contributed overwhelmingly to their own downfall at Camborne yesterday.

By their largesse, specifically a total fallibility when France put the ball in the air during the first eight minutes, England lost the game. Thus as Guillaume Bordesoule's penalty attempt hovered short of the English posts, it was Nicolas Nadau rather than any of the defenders who leapt for it.

And when he came down he was over the line. Similarly, Alexandre Peclier's up-and-under was falling in the direction of Tom Beim but, while Beim remained rooted, Jean-Marc Souvergie took off. He followed his catch with a swift transfer to Nadau and the wing was in for his second try.

Bordesoule having converted the first, England were already 12 points adrift. With the wind, they were shapeless and disorganised in the sense that they constantly turned the ball over in contact. It was not that the French, comfortable conquerors of Scotland and Wales, did much with it, but it was such a waste of possession.

None the less, French youngsters have one serious problem with rugby - the laws of the game - and such was the persistence of their infringing that Robert Ashforth was able to chip away at the deficit with three penalties before another bout of English defensive inadequacy really did ensure that France's lead was decisive.

First the scrum-half, Dominic Malone, let a cruel line-out ball bounce in front of him, leaving the French forwards to seize it and set up Peclier for a drop goal. Then when Peclier raced out of his 22 and booted ahead, the ball eluded Beim to give Peclier a second kick and a chase which he won.

With Jean-Francois Viars, brother of the French senior international Sebastien, converting, it was 22-9 at half-time - which was how it remained. After Belfast, England tour New Zealand. Help.

England: Penalties Ashforth 3. France: Tries Nadau 2, Peclier; Conversions Bordesoule, Viars; Drop goal Peclier.

ENGLAND SCHOOLS: R Ashforth (Bradford GS); T Morgan (Clifton), M Denney (Bedford Modern, capt), A Blyth (Rugby), T Beim (Cheltenham); S Binns (Bradford GS), D Malone (Sharnebrook); A Ozdemir (Hurstpierpoint), C Dawson-Walker (Worth), D Benn (Colston's), D Bailey (Widnes VI Form), R Fidler (Cheltenham), B Wade (Airedale & Wharfedale), M Brookes (Trent), G Mitchell (Haileybury).

FRANCE SCHOOLS: J-F Viars (Ussel); N Nadau (Sceaux), J-M Souvergie (Bayonne), G Bordesoule (Tarbes), B Ribes (La Voulte); A Peclier (Villefranche), L Andrieu (Albi); X Audu (Toulouse), J-M Bertrand (Perpignan), A Dasilva (Villejuif), M Macurdy (Argenteuil), C Bergez (Bayonne), N Godignon (Ussel), D Gabin (Ussel), R Jechoux (Sceaux, capt). Replacements: F Martinez (Narbonne) for Godignon, 62; W Begarie (Toulouse) for Dasilva, 69.

Referee: C Thomas (Wales).