England win Six Nations championship with a game to spare

Eddie Jones’s side play France for the Grand Slam after Scotland win hands them title

England have won the Six Nations championship with a game to spare. Photograph: Epa

England have won the Six Nations championship with a game to spare. Photograph: Epa

 

England have won the Six Nations title for the first time since 2011, with a match to spare, thanks to France’s 29-18 defeat away to Scotland.

England’s destiny was in their own hands after Saturday’s win against Wales and they will now go for the grand slam at the Stade de France this coming Saturday. England had already secured the triple crown. They now have eight points, three more than Wales, with France and Scotland level on four.

The achievement has come in Eddie Jones’s first season as coach, after the autumn’s World Cup debacle. “Obviously it’s nice to win the championship but as a team we feel we haven’t achieved what we want to achieve yet and that’s the grand slam,” he said following Scotland’s victory. “It’s a fantastic achievement by the team. The squad is very much the same as the World Cup so it’s transformed itself.

“Player of the tournament? Chris Robshaw, the work he’s done on and off the field. He’s been colossal for us. We have tried to get the players to be more responsible, get a style that suits the players we’ve got and ensure they enjoy it. We’ll go to Paris confident. We’ll have our normal squad meeting tonight then maybe go down the bar and have a coupe of beers.”

England last won the grand slam in 2003, a few months before Clive Woodward’s side won the World Cup, beating an Australia side coached by Jones in the final. At the time, few expected a lean spell would follow, despite the retirement of some leading players, including Martin Johnson, the triumphant captain. But Woodward, knighted for his success, departed and his successors struggled, despite an unexpected run to the 2007 World Cup final under Brian Ashton.

It was Johnson who led England to the 2011 Six Nations title as coach, but he stood down after a shambolic World Cup later that year and was succeeded by Stuart Lancaster. His teams finished as runners-up in the Six Nations four years in a row but they suffered disastrous defeats to Wales and Australia in the group stage of last year’s World Cup. He was sacked and the Australian Jones, who had coached Japan to a remarkable win against South Africa early in the tournament, was given the job.

England began Jones’s first campaign with a tight 15-9 win away to Scotland, followed by a 40-9 win against Italy in Rome. Ireland, the defending champions, were then beaten 21-10 at Twickenham, before Wales succumbed despite their late fightback on Saturday.

(Guardian service)

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