Ireland’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship campaign began in frustrating fashion with a narrow defeat to France.
Noel McNamara’s side were given the daunting task of facing the hosts in their opening clash in Perpignan, but recovered well from conceding an early try to open up a 17-5 lead going into the break.
France, however, rallied after the restart and three tries in the first twelve minutes of the second half completely turned the tie on its head – and from there Les Bleus displayed far more freedom and flair on the pitch and had a much more composed footing on the match with the score now at 26-17.
Ireland scored a late try through Harry Byrne, one which the outhalf then converted, but despite enduring a nervous final few minutes, France held on for the win by 26-24.
Final whistle in Perpignan.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) May 30, 2018
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) May 30, 2018
Ireland’s hopes of qualification for the final stage have taken a big hit with this defeat, and it won’t get any easier for the side when they take on South Africa this weekend. The young Springboks defeated Georgia 33-27 in a cracking group opener (also in Perpignan) and will fancy their chances of making it two wins from two against Ireland in Narbonne.
That said, Ireland can take heart from their performance and their first half display, in particular, will give them belief that they can still make a big splash in this year’s World Championship.