YORK was conquered by the French this weekend as Lezignan won the city's second International 9's tournament.

It was second-time lucky for the Frenchmen, who went down narrowly to London Koogas in last year's inaugural event.

This time around, Lezignan triumphed 18-10 over the York Ironsides to claim the Fairfax Cup, the culmination of two days of competitive rugby league staged at Heworth's Elm Park.

Around 3,000 spectators took in the action involving 23 teams from England, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, France and Russia.

Crestfallen in defeat, the Ironsides were left ruing some controversial refereeing which saw three tries ruled out in the final.

"Without wanting to sound sour, I think we were robbed," said player-coach Brendan Carlyle. "To have three tries disallowed in 20 minutes is hard to take and we are just licking our wounds at the moment."

"But I thought we had a brilliant tournament overall and I was really pleased with the lads."

Last year, the Ironsides were beaten in the semi-finals and will no doubt be keen to follow Lezignan's lead and continue their improvement in next year's tournament.

With American sides reportedly showing an interest in the competition, organisers are already looking ahead with talk of more international teams entering the fray in 2004.

Updated: 11:29 Monday, June 23, 2003