England had the advantage of playing third on the final day of the Six Nations, so knew exactly what they needed to edge Ireland to the title – a 26 point winning margin over France. As it was, an epic match ensued, but England came up short when they won 55-35.
It was a battle within a battle, as England put on one of their best ever performances to give themselves a real shot at the title, but the French, playing only for pride, scored some wonderful tries of their own and never gave up in front of a jampacked Twickenham.
On a day when Wales scored 60 against Italy and Ireland scored 40 against Scotland, England’s 55 points against arch rivals France simply weren’t good enough, leaving a bitter-sweet taste for fans, and players, who came within inches of claiming a Six Nations title.
Ben Youngs, who scored two tries in the pulsating game, was left heartbroken post match.
“I don’t really know what to say. I’m devastated… First of all, congratulations to Ireland. From our point of view, we’re devastated. We gave it a crack, but you can’t let them get back in the game.
“Each time we got a try they seem to get one back and that was the biggest disappointment.
“But we were determined not to leave anything out there or waste any chances. It’s not very often you score seven tries, beat France and walk off feeling pretty sick. But at least we have the consolation of winning a big game at Twickenham and showing people that we can finish off moves and score plenty of tries when we play this way,” the Man of the Match scrumhalf added.
Coach Stuart Lancaster said he was gutted to come second again, but praised his team.
“I said to the boys that’s one of the most courageous performance I’ve seen from a team. To go down like we did and show the character to come back. It was an unbelievable game of rugby and it was desperately disappointing not to get that try at the end.”
“We played some fantastic rugby and those two first tries from France hurt us but it will go down as one of the great games of rugby. Credit to Ireland for winning the championship, they beat us and congratulations to Joe [Schmidt] and all his team.”
England, Ireland and Wales all finshed the tournament on 8 points, but Ireland’s suprior points difference of 63 (to England’s 57 and Wales’ 53) proved crucial. France came fourth, while Italy’s victory at Murrayfield kept them off the bottom, where Scotland bagged the wooden spoon.