The USA Men’s Junior All Americans fell to 0-2 at the Junior World Championships, dropping a 45-3 contest to France today. The junior Eagles will play their final pool game against England on June 13.
The USA kept it relatively close in the first half, as the French went up 10-0 before flyhalf Liam Bourke kicked a penalty in the 25th minute. The three-pointer marked the Americans’ first points of the tournament.
The half ended 17-3 in France’s favor, and the USA had reason to hope for a continued close game. But the hosts did not dally in the second half, and in the 3rd and 5th minutes, two converted tries went up on the scoreboard. That flurry of points stymied the USA’s momentum, while France went on to score two converted tries in 15-minute increments.
France flyhalf Vincent Mallet led Les Bleus with 13 points, accounting for five conversions and a penalty. Captain Paul Jedrasiak, Stephen Parez, Gabriel Lacroix, Francois Cros, Bastien Duhalde and Maxime Wieprecht ran in the tries, and Enzo Selponi hit the final two-pointer, ensuring that all tries were converted.
"Disappointing result, and with our performance,” USA coach Jason Kelly said. “We couldn't really hold much possession today, which killed us. We were playing a lot of defense. Disappointed but we will get better. We worked on a few things from the first day, and I am pretty happy with the stuff we tried to improve on."
USA captain Tom Bliss agreed with Kelly in that, even though today’s loss was tough, some progress was made since the Wednesday loss (97-0) to South Africa.
“We wanted to make a bit of an improvement from last match against South Africa, and I feel like we did that today,” Bliss said. “A few knock-ons didn't help us in the game, a few decisions, which is a shame. We put our heart and soul into that game, and gave it everything, but unfortunately it didn't come true. But we will build from this game, and take things from this into our match with England and our last two matches."
After the third pool round, the 12 teams will be reseeded, and the top eight will move onto the Cup quarterfinals. The remainder will advance to the 9th place semifinals, set for June 18. The final round occurs on June 23.