France beat England 26-24 in the Under-19s European Championship final at the Makis Stadium in Belgrade.
In the preceding games; Wales won the plate in the third-place game, defeating Scotland 42-18; Serbia claimed the shield, overcoming Ireland 36-24; and Italy were victorious in the Bowl, triumphing 62-6 over Ukraine.
England staged a dramatic fightback with two late unconverted tries when trailing 26-16, but were just unable to overcome the French in a superb title decider. The sides were locked at 10-all at the break, France centre Matthieu Leguerre opening the scoring, Thimothe Bertrand with the goal.
England responded with tries through skipper Chris Teare, scoring in his third consecutive game and Gary McMahon, who converted his own effort but the French were level at half-time with Louis Carre crossing, Bertrand missed the conversion and a drop goal attempt as the whistle blew.
Pierre Jean Lima put the French ahead early in the second half after a great run by winger Guillaume Gorka and Leguerre claimed his double, Bertrand goaling both and adding a penalty to make it 24-10. Teare stepped clear after a five-man passing move to give England hope, McMahon goaling, but another Bertrand penalty maintained a ten-point margin going into the final stages.
With three minutes to go, Callum Wood sent in Elias Harrison, the extras missed and, with the final play, Calum Coleman’s arrowed kick was pounced on by Liam Kenyon in the corner but McMahon could not add the levelling conversion, England finishing with five tries to four.
On the win, France general manager Florian Chautard commented: “It is a magnificent achievement by this team.
“It was very nerve-racking at the end when we saw England come back, but the win is just rewards for all the hard work put in by this squad.”
England head coach Allan Coleman added: “We worked hard all game and figured out their system but gave ourselves too much to do at the end.
“The lads are really disappointed but it’s still a great achievement by this squad and I couldn’t be prouder of the boys.”
France: Corentin Rey, Miki Bauer, Matthieu Leguerre, Louis Carre, Guillaume Gorka, David De Macedo, Thimothe Bertrand, Florian Vailhen, Thomas Lacans, Barthelemy Rouge, Corentin Le Cam, Sebastien Bled, Mathieu Jassaume. Subs: Pierre Fourquet, Pierre Jean Lima, Francois Dorce Hantz, Hugo Salabio.
England: Curtis Teare, Ben Selby, Robert Crompton, Brandon Wood, James Golksbra-Miller, Gary McMahon, Calum Coleman, Leon Harber, Callum Wood, Jake Bradley, Liam Kenyon, George Senior, Louis Brogan. Subs: Elias Harrison, Ben Holmes, Sam Favell, Joe Digby.