The U20 6 Nations kicked off on Friday night, with wins for France, England, and Wales.
England won in dire conditions out in Italy, 27-17 against a hugely spirited home side.
A try from captain and former Tonbridge School star Ben Earl and a penalty from Northampton Saints’ James Grayson gave England an 8-0 lead, however Italy hit back just before the half time break to head in just a point down at 8-7 thanks to Matteo Luccardi, converted by Antonio Rizzi.
It was a shock to the England system, but they came bouncing out in the second half, with scrum half and former Denstone College star Ben White darting over eight minutes in.
Grayson converted, and was knocking over another kick a couple of seconds later after former Wellington College full back Tom Parton scored a stunning individual try, outpacing a number of would be tacklers to score on the left hand side.
Rizzi landed a penalty for Italy, but England then quickly secured the bonus point when Parton’s former Wellington College teammate and current clubmate at London Irish, Ben Loader, crossed for his side’s fourth. Italy refused to bow down though, and had the final say on the night, scoring a penalty try from a driving maul to leave the final score at 27-17 to England.
Over at Colwyn Bay Wales were in absolutely flying form against Scotland, in a performance reflecting that of the senior side the following day, beating the visitors by a storming 36-3 margin.
Wales took a 19-3 lead into half time through tries from Harri Morgan, Joe Goodchild, and outside centre Corey Baldwin, plus two conversions from full back Cai Evans, son of Wales and British & Irish Lions legend, Ieuan. Scotland’s only points came through a penalty from full back Paddy Dewhirst.
The game was scoreless for the first twenty minutes after the break, but Wales found their rhythm again towards the end as Evans landed a penalty before Dan Davies crossed, followed by Corey Baldwin completing his brace to give his side a 36-3 win and top spot in the table after round 1.
Over in Bordeaux there was a thrilling encounter as France beating Ireland 34-24. The home side had led 22-3 at the break before a thrilling second half fightback from Ireland, but one that France were just about able to keep under control.
Romain Ntamack, son of French legend Emile and another young star fly half for Les Blues, scored a first half brace. He also landed a penalty and a conversion that, in addition to a try from Ibrahim Diallo, gave his side that 22-3 half time lead, with Ireland only scoring through a penalty from outside half Harry Byrne.
Ireland found their feet in the second half though, closing the gap to 22-10 after a penalty try as Iban Etcheverry tackled Michael Silvester without the ball and received a yellow card to boot.
With twenty minutes left, scrum half Johnny Stewart closed the gap to just five points after he darted down the left hand side to score, with Byrne converting.
Suddenly Ireland were on the up, however it was France that got themselves on the front foot, scoring out of the blue as a deflected kick fell to Jules Gimbet to secure the bonus point for the home side.
Ireland bounced back though, scoring through James McCarthy, with Bryne converting to make it a three point game with under ten minutes on the clock. The comeback was dashed at the death tough as France scored their fifth of the night though Demba Bamba.
The U20 Championship continues this weekend, with Ireland hosting Italy at 7.15pm at Donnybrook, before England host Wales and Scotland host France, both at 7.45, at Kingston Park and Broadwood Stadium respectively ahead of the rest weekend the following week.
U20 6 Nations Round 1 Results:
France 34-24 Ireland
Italy 17-27 England
Wales 36-3 Scotland
Home Nations XVs
15 Tom Parton (London Irish), 14 Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), 13 Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), 12 Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 11 Ben Loader (London Irish), 10 James Grayson (Northampton Saints), 9 Ben White (Leicester Tigers), 1 Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints), 2 Henry Walker (Gloucester), 3 Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), 4 Dino Lamb (Harlequins), 5 James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 6 Sam Moore (Sale Sharks), 7 Ben Earl (Saracens, captain), 8 Tom Willis (Wasps).
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), 17 Alex Seville (Gloucester), 18 Joe Morris (Worcester Warriors), 19 Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), 20 Josh Basham (London Irish), 21 Rory Brand (London Irish) 22 Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), 23 Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers).
15 Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster), 14 Peter Sullivan (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), 13 David McCarthy (Garryowen/Munster), 12 Tommy O’Brien (UCD RFC/Leinster, captain), 11 James McCarthy (UL Bohemian/Munster), 10 Harry Byrne (UCD RFC/Leinster), 9 Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University RFC/Ulster), 1 Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster), 2 Ronan Kelleher (UCD/ Leinster), 3 Jack Aungier (St. Mary’s College RFC/Leinster), 4 Cormac Daly (Clontarf FC/Leinster), 5 Jack Dunne (Dublin University FC/Leinster), 6 Matthew Dalton (Malone RFC/Ulster), 7 Aaron Hall (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster), 8 Jack O’Sullivan (UCC RFC/Munster).
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen FC/Munster), 17 James French (UCC RFC/Munster), 18 Tom O’Toole (Banbridge RFC/Ulster), 19 Ronan Coffey (Shannon RFC/Munster), 20 Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC/Connacht), 21 Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf FC/Leinster), 22 Angus Curtis (Queen’s University RFC/Ulster), 23 Angus Kernohan (Ballymena RFC/Ulster).
15 Paddy Dewhirst (Ayr), 14 Sam Yawayawa (Glasgow Hawks), 13 Mark New (Glasgow Hawks), 12 Stafford McDowell (Ayr, vc), 11 Kyle Rowe (Glasgow Hawks), 10 Callum McLelland (Edinburgh Rugby), 9 Kaleem Barreto (Marr), 1 Shaun Gunn (Edinburgh Accies), 2 Robbie Smith (Ayr, captain), 3 Finlay Richardson (Edinburgh Accies), 4 Ewan Johnson (Racing 92), 5 Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians), 6 Archie Erskine (Boroughmuir), 7 Guy Graham (Hawick), 8 Devante Onojaife (Northampton Saints).
Replacements: 16 Bradley Clements (Ealing Trailfinders), 17 Nathan McBeth (Lions), 18 Murphy Walker (Strathallan), 19 Harry Butler (Hartpury College), 20 Rory Darge (Melrose), 21 Charlie Chapman (Gloucester), 22 Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks), 23 Rory McMichael (Glasgow Hawks).
15 Cai Evans (Ospreys), 14 Joe Goodchild (Dragons), 13 Corey Baldwin (Scarlets), 12 Callum Carson (Ospreys), 11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets), 10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues), 9 Harri Morgan (Ospreys), 1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), 2 Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues), 3 Sam Wainwright (RGC), 4 Jack Pope (Bridgend), 5 Max Williams (Dragons), 6 Tommy Reffell (c) (Leicester Tigers), 7 Dan Davies (Scarlets), 8 Taine Basham (Dragons).
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake (Ospreys), 17 Josh Reynolds (Dragons), 18 Rhys Henry (Ospreys), 19 Morgan Jones (Scarlets), 20 Morgan Morris (Ospreys), 21 Dan Babos (Dragons), 22 Ben Thomas (Cardiff Blues), 23 Tommy Rogers (Scarlets).