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The Gardens and England Under-20

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Saturday evening marks the fourth occasion on which Franklin's Gardens has hosted England Under-20 and there have been tries - 18 to be exact! - and entertainment aplenty across the trio of games so far.


A quick start from the hosts was to count for nothing come the final whistle as their more experienced French counterparts took full advantage of an England yellow card late in the second half.

It was a current Saintsman who kickstarted the visitors' comeback, Louis Picamoles crossing twice just after half-time when Matt Cox went to the sin-bin for handling in the ruck. In all France racked up 17 points while England were down to 14 men.

England were leading 13-5 before the Worcester flanker's 40th-minute exit but it went downhill from there. By the time Cox returned 10 minutes into the second half, their valiant first-half efforts were undone and France added a further try through Antoine Burban, as well as 12 points from the boot of Romain Sola.


In their maiden Junior World Championship winning year, defending Six Nations champions England made light work of Italy in front of nearly 8,000 supporters at the Gardens.

A raft of current England internationals made their mark on a dominant performance, none more so than Exeter pair Jack Nowell and Henry Slade who notched a brace of tries and 17 points respectively.

Four Saints also stepped out on home soil, Tom Stephenson among the scorers with Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Danny Herriott and Alex Day also featuring as the hosts moved one step closer to their first title of an historic double winning year.


Current England star Mark Itoje made it three tries in three games for England Under-20 as he provided one of four scores against Ireland last time out at the Gardens.

Saints winger Howard Packman, Nick Tompkins and Joel Conlon also crossed, with fly half Sam Olver and future Saint Paul Hill among the replacements for what was eventually a comfortable four points.

While France would go on to complete a Six Nations Grand Slam at England's expense, the youngsters would bounce back brilliantly by defending their Junior World crown later that summer.


Before the Under-20 side was formed, England visited Franklin's Gardens in the old Junior Six Nations championship, a squad studded with future stars suffering defeat to an agonising late try.

There were strong Saints connections throughout, England coached by Jim Mallinder and off the mark through Matt Cornwall - the centre benefitting from future teammate Paul Diggin's charge down.

England senior caps Ben Foden and Lee Dickson were also involved - James Haskell and Tom Varndell likewise - as the hosts built a 17-point lead. But France came roaring back via their pack and Sylvain Mirande's last gasp effort broke English hearts.

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