- England U18s to play three-match tournament
- They next face South Africa Schools A on Tuesday
England Under 18s lost their opening fixture of the three-match U18 series, with France defeating them 23-18 in South Africa, Cape Town.
France took the lead with an early penalty before England crossed through Jacob Umaga, after an intercept and James Grayson added a penalty to extend the lead.
However, France came back strongly, scoring 20 unanswered points to lead 23-8 at the break.
England did stage a second-half fight back, reducing the deficit to five points with tries from Sam Moore and
Ciaran Knight, but France held on for victory.
The U18s next face South Africa Schools A before ending the tour against SA Schools on Saturday and the Rugby Football Union’s national academy development manager John Fletcher declared himself happy with their second-half performance after a poor opening 40 minutes.
"We completely dominated the second-half and had opportunities to score late on," said Fletcher. "I thought the second-half performance was strong and much improved.
"The reality is we’ve had two training sessions so the players need to get used to each other. We’ve thrown in some new combinations of guys who have been brought up from the U17s and it does take a little bit of time."
'GOOD TRIES IN DIFFICULT CONDITIONS'
England only arrived in South Africa at the start of the week and Fletcher admitted that it was evident in their first half performance but said they showed great spirit in the game.
"The difference was France have been out here five days longer and have had a game prior to playing us," he said.
"There was some really pleasing points, especially with how the players adapted and their spirit in the second half and they would have learnt a lot.
"We scored some very good tries in very difficult conditions. So I’m delighted with how they played in the second half."