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Baby Blacks upset France at World Cup

Updated: Jul 5

The Baby Blacks have caused an upset beating defending champions and hot favourites France at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in South Africa.

The three-time defending champions started well with an early try to full-back Xan Mosques gathered a deft grubber from captain Hugo Reus in the left corner.


Reus missed the touchline conversion and New Zealand managed to hold off numerous waves of attack until the fly-half struck a penalty in the 21st minute.

Jonathan Lee had given away that penalty and New Zealand lost his back-row colleague Andrew Smith to a yellow card shortly afterwards. However, the U20 Rugby Championship winners held France out, and even launched a rare attack, while a player light.

France were able to extend their lead on the stroke of half-time, though, as Reus punished more ill-discipline with his second penalty of the match.

It was a nervous victory, but the Baby Blacks beat France at the U20 World Championship
Celebration time for the Baby Blacks at the World Rugby U-20 Championship with a win over France. PHOTO: WORLD RUGBY

The worry for France was that their dominance wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard and that anxiety grew early in the second half.

Aki Tuivailala picked a powerful line, following a brilliant chip and chase from Stanley Solomon, to get New Zealand on the scoreboard. Fly-half Simpson added the conversion and France’s lead was cut to just four points.

The defending champions hit back with a try from flanker Joe Quere Karaba but Baby Blacks continued to build momentum and crossed the whitewash for a second time when scrum-half Dylan Pledger sliced through a gap before playing in Solomon.

Simpson again converted and the pendulum swung further in New Zealand’s favour in the 58th minute when Leo Carbonneau was shown a yellow card.

New Zealand captain Vernon Bason, 19 from Manawatu was denied a try in the 61st minute but his side didn’t have long to wait for their third score, a dominant push shoving France off their own ball five metres out and Pledger charging down the blind to give his side the lead for the first time.

A Reus penalty edged France back in front, but replacement New Zealand hooker Manumaua Letiu profited from a powerful lineout drive to put his side 24-21 in front with around 12 minutes to go.

There was still time for plenty of drama, though. France looked to have won the match after Mathis Ferté’s try was followed by a yellow card for replacement New Zealand prop Joshua Smith with the clock ticking towards full-time.

However, French indiscipline gave Simpson the chance to win the match with the final kick, and he obliged.

The first fives penalty appeared to edge just inside the uprights, but the sideline refs kept their flags down before a TMO check, the points were awarded to New Zealand.

The Baby Blacks now head Pool A, with their next game against winless Spain.


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