England crowned Six Nations champs

England claimed the 2020 Six Nations title after beating Italy 34-5 before France claimed a 35-27 win over Ireland in a dramatic final round on Saturday.

The fifth and final round of the Six Nations saw England, Ireland and France all go into Saturday with a shot at the title.

England were arguably in the driving seat and had the easier job as they simply had to beat Italy with a bonus-point and hope the other result went their way.

As it happened, Eddie Jones’ team did just that as scrumhalf Ben Youngs scored a brace of tries on his 100th Test appearance to help them collect all five points.

Jamie George also scored on his 50th appearance for England, while further tries from Tom Curry and Henry Slade ensured that they not only picked up the bonus point, but also boosted their points difference.

Italy – Try: Jake Polledri.
England – Tries: Ben Youngs (2), Jamie George, Tom Curry, Henry Slade. Conversions: Owen Farrell (3). Penalty: Farrell.

That set things up for a thrilling final match of the tournament between France and Ireland in Paris.

Ireland either needed to beat France with a bonus-point or with a winning margin of at least seven points. Given England’s margin of victory over Italy, France needed to beat Ireland with a margin of at least 31 points.

France got the game off to a dream start as Antoine Dupont crossed for the first try inside the opening 10 minutes.

However, Ireland hit straight back and piled on the pressure, helped by France losing fullback Anthony Bouthier to the sin bin for a cynical foul. The scores were levelled when centurion Cian Healy muscled his way over to score on his 100th Test appearance.

The game seemed to shift again, this time in France’s favour when the hosts were awarded a penalty try and Caelan Doris was yellow carded for an early tackle just as Francois Cros was about to gather his kick through and score.

A penalty from Ntamack put France 17-13 up at half-time and the flyhalf was on hand to finish a counter-attack started by Gael Fickou early in the second half. Another couple of penalties from Ntamack saw France go 15 points ahead.

However, a brilliant individual try from Robbie Henshaw pulled Ireland right back into the contest, with the visitors needing another 15 points in the final 20 minutes to secure the title.

Ntamack came up with another moment of magic as he gathered his own chip over the defence and put Virimi Vakatawa away from a try. Unfortunately for France, they left themselves too much to do in too little time. Ireland would final say when Jacob Stockdale scored after the fulltime hooter, with France walking away 35-27 winners.

France – Tries: Antoine Dupont, penalty try, Romain Ntamack, Virimi Vakatawa. Conversions: Romain Ntamack (2). Penalties: Ntamack (3)
Ireland – Tries: Cian Healy, Robbie Henshaw, Jacob Stockdale. Conversions: Jonathan Sexton (2), Ross Byrne. Penalties: Sexton (2).

In the earlier kickoff on Saturday, Scotland made their own bit of history as they beat Wales in an away match for the first time in 18 years with a 14-10 victory in Llanelli.

Replacement hooker Stuart McInally scored what turned out to be the winning try when he went over from behind a driving maul halfway through the second half.

Wales, who were hoping to give captain Alun Wyn Jones a memorable record-breaking 149th Test, took a slim 7-6 lead into the break thanks to Rhys Carre’s try.

Wales – Try: Rhys Carre. Conversion: Dan Biggar. Penalty: Leigh Halfpenny.
Scotland –  Try: Stuart McInally. Penalties: Finn Russell, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg.

Photo: Chris Ricco – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

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Dylan Jack