Sunday, April 30, 2006
England's Under 16 and Under 18 September 1 teams had mixed fortunes on the last day of their 2006 programme against France in Castres today, the Under 16s completing an unbeaten season with a 21-20 victory and the Under 18s losing their first game of a highly-successful campaign 21-17.
England Under 16s scored three converted tries through wingman Samuel Smith (Cranleigh School & Surrey), centre Alexander Hurst (Moorside High School & Lancashire) and scrum-half Ben Youngs (Gresham's School & Norfolk), fly-half Rory Clegg (Barnard Castle School & Durham) converting all three.
France had two converted tries and two penalties, an exceptional conversion of their last try from wide out setting up a tense final 10 minutes.
"We also had to play for part of the game with flanker Robert Bell (Boldon School & Durham) in the sin-bin for an offence we couldn't really understand, but there is a great spirit in the side and they pulled together well," said Team Manager George Squires. "We weren't at our scintillating best by any means today, but this is a team that has a maturity beyond its years and that came through today.
"Team spirit and the willingness to play for each other has been the key to our success this season and it showed this afternoon."
England Under 18s felt that they had snatched victory in the dying minutes when flanker Callum Clark (Barnard Castle, Yorkshire & Leeds Tykes) got over the line, but the referee decided that he was held up and France collected the 21-17 win.
France were 14 points ahead after 15 minutes, but tries by replacement flanker Aaron Myers (Hartlepool Sixth Form College, Durham & Newcastle Falcons) and replacement hooker Ryan Prosser (Colston's Collegiate, Gloucestershire & Bristol) and two conversions and a penalty from fly-half Robert Miller (Keswick School, Cumbria & Newcastle Falcons) got England back into contention, even though France added another converted try.
"The first 20 minutes cost us the game," said 18 Group Manager Lynne Lewis. "We played well and could have stolen the win late on, but we left ourselves too much to do after France's good start.
"But despite the defeat against a very good French side, we've had a fabulous season, winning six of our seven international matches and winning the Home Nations and the AER championships.
"All the lads have been totally committed to the cause and they've also shown a lot of skill in the process."