WALES will face Australia in the fifth to ninth place play-offs of the World Rugby U20 Championship on Sunday after an energy-sapping 29-11 defeat to France.

In a game played in somewhat farcical conditions in Cape Town, the Welsh youngsters missed out on the semi-finals of the competition.

French power ensures that they go through to play New Zealand, who they were edged out by in the group stages.

Wales, meanwhile, will aim to finish fifth and their earlier efforts – a pair of bonuses against the Kiwis and a four-try win against Spain – mean they are saved from the threat of relegation in the bottom bracket of the championship.

Their group finale got the green light at Athlone Stadium after the decider between Australia and Ireland, much the Aussies’ annoyance, was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch.

The surface was deemed playable but it was extremely heavy, while the wind had a massive impact on the encounter.

HIT: Conditions were challenging for Wales U20s against FranceHIT: Conditions were challenging for Wales U20s against France (Image: Photo by Carl Fourie/World Rugby)

France’s power meant they went into half-time 21-6 up despite the Welsh youngsters having conditions in their favour.

Dragons fly-half Harri Ford kicked a penalty in the fourth minute but the three-time defending champions responded with a try by winger Hoani Bosmorin in the left corner, impressively converted by Hugo Reus.

A second try was chalked off and Ford cut the gap to a point in the 27th minute but Les Bleuets were in total command at the break thanks to scores by Thomas Lacombre and Bosmorin.

Wales hooker Isaac Young was yellow-carded early in the second half and France took advantage through number eight Mathis Castro Ferreira.

Richard Whiffin’s side defended with tenacity – their exits were extremely difficult against the wind – and eventually got down the other end where captain Ryan Woodman was denied, the Dragons flanker held up over the line.

Ospreys back rower Morgan Morse did go over for a consolation before France had the final say with a penalty by Axel Desperes-Rigou.

Wales will face the Aussies at Danie Craven Stadium Stellenbosch on Sunday (kick-off 6pm) before ending the tournament against either hosts South Africa or Argentina on Friday, July 19.

“They will be a different challenge as they will probably look to move the ball a little bit more, depending on conditions, but it’s always nice to play different teams that you don’t get a chance to very often," said Whiffin.

“It’s another challenge for this group, who have improved massively since the Six Nations. We gave a brave performance against France but moving forward we need to be a bit more accurate to get those big scalps.”

Wales U20s: Matty Young (Cardiff); Macs Page (Scarlets), Louie Hennessey (Bath), Steffan Emanuel (Cardiff), Aidan Boshoff (Bristol Bears); Harri Ford (Dragons), Ieuan Davies (Bath); Josh Morse (Scarlets), Isaac Young (Scarlets), Sam Scott (Bristol Bears), Jonny Green (Harlequins), Osian Thomas (Leicester), Ryan Woodman (Dragons, Captain), Lucas de la Rua (Cardiff), Morgan Morse (Ospeys)

Replacements: Harry Thomas (Scarlets), Jordan Morris (Dragons), Kian Hire (Ospreys), Nick Thomas (Dragons), Owen Conquer (Dragons), Rhodri Lewis (Scarlets), Harri Wilde (Cardiff), Elijah Evans (Cardiff).


Ninth place semis: Italy v Spain, Georgia v Fiji.

Fifth place semis: South Africa v Argentina, Australia v Wales.

Semi-finals: England v Ireland, New Zealand v France.