France retained their European U18 sevens title with flair, style – and by a wide margin in Prague today.
France were on another level to the rest of the field in Rugby Europe’s U18 Championship.
After a gap of three years, the tournament returned with a nine-team field and a complex format that featured three rounds of games, each round featured three pools of three teams.
The same format was used to the Trophy tournament and, for all the complexity, works well.
France have been imperious at this level now for some years. This group’s predecessors were European Champions in 2018 and 2019, and World University Champions, and silver medallists at the 2018 Youth Olympic. This group promise to be even better.
France swept through the first day without conceding a point, and repeated the feat at the start of the second – even upping a gear or two as the passed 60 points against both Scotland and Portugal.
Second and third seeds England (runners up in 2019 and winners in 2017) and Ireland were also comfortable winners of their morning pools, which also saw a return to international rugby by Ukraine.
Ireland also saw off their opponents in the second round of pool games, split over the two days, to reach the championship pool alongside France, but – in what was in effect a knock-out game - England were beaten by an exciting looking Spanish team 29-5, meaning that the best they could hope for would be fourth.
The final round saw the pools that would decide the final positions.
First up scenes of infectious joy and happiness saw Ukraine win both of their games again Portugal and Belgium to end the tournament in seventh place.
England came up against Czechia for fourth and conceded an early score, but recovered well to win 28-10.
The championship pool was, needless to say, won by France who conceded their first and only score in their opening game against Spain, who went on to finish runners-up – a positive outcome for the future of a nation renewing itself at World Series level.
Pool A: France 34-0 Belgium; Spain 34-0 Belgium; France 22-0 Spain
Pool B: England 27-5 Portugal; Czechia 54-0 Portugal; England 19-5 Czechia
Pool C: Ireland 27-5 Ukraine; Scotland 17-0 Ukraine; Ireland 28-12 Scotland
Pool D: France 71-0 Portugal; Scotland 43-0 Portugal; France 61-0 Scotland
Pool E: England 48-0 Ukraine; Spain 49-0 Ukraine; England 5-29 Spain
Pool F: Ireland 26-12 Belgium; Czechia 17-0 Belgium; Ireland 26-5 Czechia
7th-9th place pool: Belgium 27-5 Portugal; Ukraine 27-7 Portugal; Belgium 5-12 Ukraine
4th-6th place pool: England 33-12 Scotland; Czechia 42-19 Scotland; England 28-10 Czechia
1st-3rd place pool: France 27-7 Spain; Ireland 5-26 Spain; France 46-0 Ireland
Stars of the future
BELGIUM ; Lana Van Den; Emilie Vraux; sana Khalloufi; Nina Jacquemot; Femke Soens; Noëmie Hubert; Eowyn Edwards; Naïs Jaime; Hailey Vermeer; Lore De Norre; kyara Heyvaert; Milla Baufay
CZECHIA ; Julie Petríková; Natálie Skudrnová; Anezka Skalová; Ema Kulblbeckova; Stepánka Sluková; Adéla Zelnicková; Klára Matousová; Kristyna Riegertová; Barbora Milinková; Julie Durychová; Natalie Reitzová; Alzbeta Hájková; Aneta Fialová
ENGLAND ; Daisy Aspinall; Lauren Bailey; Reneeqa Bonner; Evelyn Clarke; Constance Clarke; Olivia Constable; Isobel Mcguire-Evans; Sophie Mcqueen; Anna Richardson; Niamh Swailes; Eva Wood; Lucy Thorpe
FRANCE ; Lilou Graciet; Léa Trollier; Mawa Kane; Lina Tuy; Pauline Barrat; Lili Dezou; Hawa Tounkara; Ilona Couderchet; Cléo Hagel; Mae Levy; Lou Roboam; Enoe Neri; Suliana Sivi
IRELAND ; Molly Boote; Kate Flannery; Ellen Boylan; Tara O'neill; Amy O'mahony; Robyn O'connor; Amy Larn; Eabha Nic; Caitriona Finn; Katie Corrigan; Hannah Clarke; Eva Sterritt
PORTUGAL ; Maria Almeida; Joana Chasqueira; Alicia Tomaz; Maria Silva; Bárbara Silva; Ines Coelho; Jéssica Barros; Ines Marques; Maria Rapoula; Maria Lopes; Maria Dias; Joana Pires
SCOTLAND ; Ceitidh Ainsworth; Brogan Henderson; Megan Hyland; Sophie Langford; Lucy Macrae; Carla Mcdonald; Sky Phimister; Niamh Robertson-Jack; Hannah Speer; Alexandra Stewart; Morven Thomson; Hannah Walker; Nicole Flynn
SPAIN ; Claudia Perez; Zahia Perez; Isis Espuga; Ariadna Vergara; Claudia Peña; Victoria Rosell; Carolina Rodríguez; Abril Camacho; Ariane Torrontegi; Jimena Blanco; Carmen Miranda; Claudia Cano; Garazi Izaguirre; ;
UKRAINE ; Hanna Ivanytska; Oksana Arnaut; Albina Voinenko; Yelyzaveta Hiltaichuk; Daria Jarotksa; Viktoriia Shepel; Viktoriya Korniyenko; Polina Bratchyk; Iryna Svirchuk; Mariia Voloshanovska; Yuliia Goroshko; Nadiia Sondei; Khrystyna Zhuk