England Students secure 25-21 victory over France Universities

England Students picked their first win on French soil in 17 years
©THREE2 / England Students

Report from England Students / Beth Sims

England Students were victorious with a 25-21 win over France Universities, marking the side’s first win on French soil in 17 years.

Dubbed Le Crunch Universitaire, the fixture saw the longstanding rivalry between the two men’s sides come to a fore at the Stade André Beaudry, Terrasson-Lavilledieu.

Led by captain Josh Barton, England established an early lead. Exeter University’s Sam Higginson was the first over the white line in the fourth minute, with Loughborough full-back Charlie Titcombe’s 12th minute penalty taking England to 8-0. 

But the strength of the French side shone through, with a high-speed display of skill sending them surging through the English defence to clock up three tries of their own, each converted by fly half Tanguy Lacoste. At the half-time whistle, England Students sat 13 points behind their rivals.

The English side returned to the pitch hungry for the second half. A solid set piece laid the foundations for Cardiff University’s Ben Chapman to claim England Students' second try, with Titcombe mopping up the two points.

Loughborough University’s Nathan Pope landed England another score in the 64th minute, before a second conversion from Titcombe took the side into a 22-21 lead.

Tensions in the stadium were high with both sides battling to chase down the win. The French attack was kept at bay with a highly physical defensive display from England Students as the clock reached the final minutes before a second penalty from Titcombe in the 77th minute cemented the win 25-21.

The battle was reminiscent of the England Students’ clash against the French in 2022, when Titcombe again edged the team to a narrow victory in the final minutes with a penalty taken from beyond the halfway line.