France beat England to claim Six Nations grand slam for first time in 12 years

France won the grand slam and a first Six Nations title in 12 years with a 25-13 victory over England in a thrilling Test match in Paris.

After Ireland secured a bonus-point victory over Scotland earlier on Saturday, France knew they had to beat England to take the title and they didn’t disappoint.

Tries from Gael Fickou, Francois Cros and Antoine Dupont secured the title for Les Bleus in front of a raucous crowd at the Stade de France.

“Twelve years is a very long time,” France team manager Raphael Ibanez told ITV after the victory. “It’s been an intense final game but we got the reward. We are very lucky to have a great group of players.

“Fair play to England, they tried to break our defence. But I think our team spirit and tactics won us the game.

“I would recommend our players [keep] their feet on the ground. There’s more to come. We can still improve our game.”

After his heroics at Twickenham last week, Ellis Genge had another storming match but he gave away the first scrum penalty. It gifted France the first points as Melvyn Jaminet slotted a kick.

Les Bleus were the next scorers as a fabulously worked try saw Fickou dot down. Gabin Villiere made multiple meters and played apart a few phases later in the score. The ball was then fizzed out to Fickou by Romain Ntamack who finished brilliantly.

Marcus Smith dented the hosts’ lead after a penalty kick but there was then a nervous moment for the visitors as Jack Nowell avoided a card. Jaminet was cluttered in the air but referee Jaco Peyper judged Damian Penaud changed his line and so Nowell wasn’t at fault.

A penalty for both sides and a spectacular fast-paced Cros try – as he burrowed over from close-range to finish a brilliant team move from the hosts – saw France 18-6 up at half-time.

England started the second 40 brightly with a penalty seeing Smith kick to corner. However, a strong French defense saw Sam Underhill spill the ball.

France won an emotional grand slam in Paris

(Reuters)

But it didn’t take long for England to find their opening try. Joe Marchant made a break and the ball was whipped through the hands to enable Freddie Steward to score.

England threatened once again but the French defense ensured they got the turnover. And it was the French who got the next try. Captain Dupont’s dancing feet beat two defenders to go over after a Gregory Alldritt offload.

Alex Dombrandt almost hit back but he was held up and so France had a goal-line drop out. England kept knocking on the door but France were able to see out the match and seal a historic victory.

The result sees England finish the tournament in third, an improvement on their fifth-place in 2021, with Ireland second in the table.

But it’s the French team who will have songs sung about them in Paris this evening.

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