Six Nations rugby result, final score and reaction as France seal Grand Slam


Follow live coverage as France beat England 25-13 in the finale of the Six Nations in Paris to win the Grand Slam and lift the championship trophy for the first time in 12 years.

Fabien Galthie’s side made history as they claimed a Grand Slam and a first championship title since 2010. Victory over England achieved both those goals but the pressure was on, as any other result would have seen Ireland snatch the title after they beat Scotland earlier in the day.

Their team selection has shown remarkable continuity throughout the tournament with 11 players starting all five matches, with all but one of the changes made in the tournament enforced by Covid. Damian Penaud returns on the right wing in the only switch from the 13-9 victory over Wales in round four.

England have sprung a surprise in their bid to deny their hosts by naming Freddie Steward on the wing and George Furbank at full-back. The other change to the backline sees Ben Youngs, England’s most capped player, replace Harry Randall at scrum-half where he will partner fly-half Marcus Smith. There are three new faces in the pack with Will Stuart, Nick Isiekwe and Sam Underhill coming in.

Follow all the latest reaction from the Stade de France:

Table of Contents

Six Nations 2022

  • FULL-TIME! France beat England 25-13 to win Six Nations title and Grand Slam!

  • TRY! 62’ – Dupont slithers through for a crucial try (25-13)

  • TRY! 49’ – Steward score in the corner gets England back in it (18-13)

  • TRY! 40’ – Cros burrows over from close range (18-6)

  • TRY! 15’ – Fickou goes over in the corner after Ntamack’s pass (8-0)

  • Victory for France would see them seal a Grand Slam and first title since 2010

  • If France lose or draw, Ireland win the Six Nations title – having beaten Scotland earlier

21:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Antoine Dupont is crying tears of joy – what a game, what a tournament, what a player! The scrum-half has led France to a Grand Slam in his first campaign as skipper.


21:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

THEY’VE DONE IT! For the first time in 12 years, France have won the men’s Six Nations – and they’ve done it in style, completing the clean sweep, securing Le Grand Chelem! They did not quite reach their absolute best this evening, and the Stade de France was certainly nervy during the second half, but in the end a 12-point winning margin is just about just.

The French players celebrate together as the Six Nations branded rostrum is brought on to the pitch.


21:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images for ALTRAD)

(Getty Images for ALTRAD)

France 25-13 England, 79 minutes

21:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“La Marseillaise” gets an airing, with the Stade de France now all but certain that the Grand Slam will be theirs. A free kick to France at the scrum.

And they’ll see out the final 40 seconds or so by taking the scrum option. This’ll be it.

France 25-13 England, 78 minutes

21:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That probably seals it! It’s good attacking play from England, working the ball into space well. Sam Simmonds puts some footowork on and then fizzes a pass to Maro Itoje, who steps in to two defenders, who combine to grab the lock.

Itoje offloads, but Alex Dombrandt gets himself in a muddle and the ball is lost forward.

France 25-13 England, 77 minutes

21:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Antoine Dupont and Melvyn Jaminet each get an ovation as France empty their bench. Maxime Lucu and Thomas Ramos on; George Ford has taken the place of George Furbank for England as a last throw of the dice.

France 25-13 England, 76 minutes

21:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Here come England, time running out. An apparent knock-on is greeted with a shrug by Jaco Peyper, and England go onwards.

Marcus Smith, jinking, jumping, with men outside him…tossed into touch! An errant pass, France’s lineout, and the Grand Chelem ever closer.

France 25-13 England, 75 minutes

21:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France concede a breakdown penalty and off goes Harry Randall, tapping quickluy and finding a teammate, but Mohamed Haouas ends Henry Slade’s charge with a rather firm connection with the centre’s ribs.

England kick in behind…Gabin Villiere just about grabs it! Freddie Steward nearly had it, but the Frenchman manages to escape from his own in–goal.

France 25-13 England, 74 minutes

21:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

No spaces appear for England so Marcus Smith tries something different, chipping deftly for Elliot Daly, who can’t quite burgle Damian Penaud and co., the ball eventually ending up in Antoine Dupont’s hands.

France 25-13 England, 73 minutes

21:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The scrum goes down but Jaco Peyper has had enough fussing, and allows France to play away. Melvyn Jaminet has both distance and direction on his clearing kick, finding a safe, long touch just shy of England’s ten-metre line.

France 25-13 England, 72 minutes

21:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Harry Randall’s box kick is perfect for a chasing Henry Slade to contest, but English hands knock the ball on in the air.

Changes for France: Dylan Cretin and Thibaud Flament arrive in the place of Cameron Woki and Francois Cros. Woki gets a big cheer for a tireless performance.

France 25-13 England, 72 minutes

21:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Harry Randall’s box kick is perfect for a chasing Henry Slade to contest, but English hands knock the ball on in the air.

Changes for France: Dylan Cretin and Thibaud Flament arrive in the place of Cameron Woki and Francois Cros. Woki gets a big cheer for a tireless performance.

France 25-13 England, 71 minutes

21:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Held up! France get bodies beneath the ball and hold out!

The maul never gets going but England inventively try something different, Alex Dombrandt hitting a fine line from depth and looking set to crash over. However France just about halt the locomotive, and England can’t force the ball to floor. Goalline drop-out.

France 25-13 England, 70 minutes

21:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Jean-Baptiste Gros will make everyone wait as he receives some attention from the French physio. England have to score here, you’d think.

France 25-13 England, 69 minutes

21:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And France are then pinged for collapsing the maul. Advantage for England, and Harry Randall tries something delicate, lifting a kick just beyond the French defence…which falls into Henry Slade’s hands! But it comes to nothing as France hold Slade up, and Jaco Peyper will take England back for the penalty – with Marcus Smith asking his forwards to have another go at the lineout, this time from five metres out.

France 25-13 England, 68 minutes

21:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A strong impact from Joe Marler, driving back Mohamed Haouas, who is penalised. England head for the corner.

France 25-13 England, 66 minutes

21:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another loose moment from a French boot – Antoine Dupont unfurls a long box kick just before he is engulfed by Courtney Lawes, but he’s chosen one or two clubs too many. It rolls out the back of the English in-goal and all the way back they will be able to come for the scrum inside the France half.

France 25-13 England, 65 minutes

21:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

More alterations from England – off go Ellis Genge, Sam Underhill and Ben Youngs, on come Joe Marler, Alex Dombrant and Harry Randall.

France play up the centre and then launch a drop goal from distance, which England decisively block! A strange attempt from Melvyn Jaminet, who hadn’t a prayer of getting that past four lifted English limbs.

France 25-13 England, 64 minutes

21:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s a few tired bodies out there now. Ollie Chessum is on for England, replacing Nick Isiekwe. A bouncing ball is grabbed by Cameron Woki, up like an NBA centre for a rebound.

France then force England into touch.

TRY! FRANCE 25-13 England (Antoine Dupont try, 61 minutes)

21:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s no stopping Antoine Dupont though! Of course the magnificent French captain was going to have a say as his side seek the Chelem!

It’s Gregory Alldritt who affords him the opportunity, shaking off a tackler after Damian Peanud had beaten four on his lonesome earlier in the movement. Alldritt draws two more to him and swiftly transfers to a supporting Dupont, who fends Jamie George off and then out-kicks Ben Youngs to sprint for the line.

Melvyn Jaminet restores the French advantage to 12 and the Stade de France is bouncing again.

France 18-13 England, 60 minutes

21:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Stability, at last, and France attack the blindside, Gael Fickou’s snaking hips forcing Freddie Steward into a moment of difficulty, but the England wing holding on to the centre eventually.

France 18-13 England, 59 minutes

21:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A third successive failure to set the scrum will require a sterner talking to. Mohamed Haouas and Ellis Genge are told to buck their ideas up.

France 18-13 England, 59 minutes

21:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A fresh French front row and the arrival of Kyle Sinckler will necessitate a second delivery from Jaco Peyper of what he is looking for at scrum time. Twice the referee isn’t happy with the way the two sides are setting up as a couple of minutes tick by.

France 18-13 England, 56 minutes

21:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Mohamed Haouas completes the French front row changes as Uini Atonio trudges for the bench. He’s involved immediately, lending his support after Peato Mauvaka had made a half-break.

It all nearly comes a cropper as Romain Ntamack gets his pass wrong, but Gabin Villiere collects and likes the broken field, Maro Itoje doing rather well to cling on to the wriggly wing after Kyle Sinckler had been left clutching only air. Antoine Dupont tries to snipe, but finds only the back of Jaco Peyper, who apologetically whistles for a French scrum just before the English tackler clatter through him in their attempts to smash Dupont.

France 18-13 England, 55 minutes

21:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But now the Stade de France roars as the hosts win a penalty! As they have done all night, France attack a slightly under-resourced England ruck on the right – and Gael Fickou is rewarded for his jackal after Marcus Smith had found Sam Underhilll with an inside flick.

France 18-13 England, 54 minutes

21:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The lineout and clearance are effective enough but France are struggling all of a sudden. Freddie Steward’s up-and-under is perfectly weighted, the full-back-cum-wing claiming it himself.

France 18-13 England, 53 minutes

21:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Joe Marchant is having a very good game. The outside centre again shakes free of a tackle or two on his latest midfield carry, though not quite as decisively as for the score. England kick the ball out of play on the right and France will throw a pressure lineout.

France 18-13 England, 51 minutes

21:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That is cue for France to go to their bench. Jean-Baptiste Gros, Peato Mauvaka and Romain Taofifenua come on in the place of Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand and Paul Willemse. England answer by introducing Kyle Sinckler – Will Stuart will take a seat.

Momentum is just starting to swing the way of the visitors, producing a powerful lineout drive to win a penalty, with the travelling England fans now in very good voice.

TRY! France 18-13 ENGLAND (Freddie Steward try, 49 minutes)

21:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Brilliant attacking play from England and Freddie Steward steps inside to score!

It’s Joe Marchant again who makes the break to spark the chance. England’s back play is nice, with Marcus Smith able to pick a choice of two runners, with Marchant arriving from deeper and wider, and scything right up the centre. He nearly steps past Damian Penaud, who grabs his waistband to just about corral the centre.

The shackles are broken, though, as England play to the right, Smith again pulling the strings superbly to put a teammate into space, and the widest man on the line is Steward, who steps inside to score. Smith knocks over the extra tw
o – England are right back in this.

France 18-6 England, 48 minutes

21:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

What can England do from here? Lineout, two metres outside the French 22 on the left…

France 18-6 England, 47 minutes

21:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It all comes to nowt, though, as an English carrier is up-ended, and another kicking exchange ensues. Marcus Smith ends it by deftly stepping away from Antoine Dupont, who is offside, too, and duly penalised.

France 18-6 England, 45 minutes

21:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Solid enough from both eights but France don’t clear immediately, chancing a few carries before Antoine Dupont does boot upfield. Elliot Daly neatly remains in the field of play with a leap, and England attack inside the French half.

France 18-6 England, 43 minutes

21:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Jamie George hits a grounded Nick Isiekwe at the front and England pile in to the drive, but France defend it firmly, and England will have to play away.

Three close-in carries make half-dents, but Ellis Genge is then stood up and forced back.

And the Stade de France roars as England try an ambitious transfer after the latest stalled carry, an arriving Maro Itoje failing to securely take the ball from Sam Underhill. France scrum.

France 18-6 England, 42 minutes

21:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Elliot Daly threatens the outside shoulder of Gael Fickou running the arc, but the French defensive captain has it well marshalled. But France then make themselves too busy at the base of a ruck for Jaco Peyper’s liking, and after England’s advantage comes to nothing, back the referee brings them for the penalty.

Which Marcus Smith pushes towards the corner…

France 18-6 England, 41 minutes

21:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And an immediate error from France, losing control of the ball as it comes back down to earth and eventually knocking on. Good platform for England, this, seven metres in from the touchline inside the France 22.

The second half begins!

21:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Marcus Smith restarts proceedings.

Can England get back in it?

21:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

What can England do differently after the interval? I still think the aerial bombardment is a tactic that may come to fruition, but England could perhaps mix things up a bit more.

Interestingly, as England fans on Twitter seem very keen to point out, there were a couple of potential knock-ons in the build-up to both France tries that went unchecked, but the visitors have been comfortably second best.

40 minutes between France and the Grand Chelem

20:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

H/T: France 18-6

20:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France’s error count is really high, but their defence has been excellent, and it has meant that England have been unable to capitalise. Whenever the visitors have got to a loose ball, it has seemed that there have been enough French bodies in close attendance to snuff out the space and, more often than not, win a breakdown turnover.

Intriguingly, England have looked a threat when they have played to width, and Ellis Genge is having another stormer, relishing a role affording him a chance to build up a head of steam from the backfield. But Eddie Jones’ side look a long way short of their hosts, as expected, and the more the lead swells it will get tougher and tougher to rely on advancing with the boot.

H/T: France 18-6 England

20:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Halfway there. It’s not been perfect by any means from France but they have played all of the rugby so far, and that Francois Cros score has made the half-time lead look far more appropriate. England haven’t yet fired a shot, really, and even though France have blown a number of chances, they look to have the capacity to cut their opponents open at will.

H/T: France 18-6 England

20:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Halfway there. It’s not been perfect by any means from France but they have played all of the rugby so far, and that Francois Cros score has made the half-time lead look far more appropriate. England haven’t yet fired a shot, really, and even though France have blown a number of chances, they look to have the capacity to cut their opponents open at will.


20:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

TRY! FRANCE 18-6 England (Francois Cros try, 40 minutes)

20:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And finally France go over! It’s a sustained effort from the home side, straining the sinews, stressing the synapses, as England cling on where they can.

Eventually the space again appears down the left. Romain Ntamack is somehow stopped by Ellis Genge, snatching the fly-half’s hand to haul him back and prevent him scoring, but Francois Cros reaches out of a collapsed mass close to the ruck. A perfect end to the half for France and a big step towards the Grand Chelem, made even bigger by Melvyn Jaminet’s conversion.

France 11-6 England, 39 minutes

20:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Or can they? That’s a strange choice from Marcus Smith, lifting a diagonal cross-kick that Melvyn Jaminet gathers and suddenly France are alive with the possibilities.

Gabin Villiere makes great inroads down the left and France arrive in great number in support.

France 11-6 England, 38 minutes

20:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s not quite been there for France so far. Another promising movement falls foul of French butter fingers and England can clear.

France 11-6 England, 36 minutes

20:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A slightly nervous energy to affairs all of a sudden as France make another error in possession. Joe Marchant is swiftly on to it.

Centre partner Henry Slade makes a left-ward dart, but he gets himself isolated and Gael Fickou harpoons an exposed ball at the base of a ruck. England then deliberately knock-on as France play intricately in tight spaces.

Missed penalty! France 11-6 England, 35 minutes

20:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It always felt ambitious. Jaminet properly stomps towards the ball and gives it everything, but his concentration on ensuring he has enough in the tank to get there fails to set the right coordinates. It flies rather wildly away.

France 11-6 England, 34 minutes

20:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The Stade de France likes that shove – England are not-so-politely invited to retreat by the French front row and there are all manner of infringements after a proper dismantling.

Intriguing – this is a toughie, but Melvyn Jaminet fancies a go from inside his own half. 15 metres or so infield.

France 11-6 England, 33 minutes

20:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Will Stuart goes down and requests some attention from the England physios. Kyle Sinckler does a few leg swings in case he is needed in advance of this scrum, but it looks like it is just a contact lens issue. Stuart joins the rest of the England front-row and prepares to push.

France 11-6 England, 33 minutes

20:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Now England will have an explore. All of that kicking and chasing has shorn France of numbers, and Marcus Smith recognises it, producing his trademark goose-step and canter to the outside.

George Furbank pops up on his shoulder and bursts free of Jonathan Danty, but Gabin Villiere shows incredible closing speed to bring him to floor, and England then knock-on.

France 11-6 England, 31 minutes

20:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Two kicks from England, the first claimed by Elliot Daly, the second from Ben Youngs fall
ing into French hands. It is French fingers that get to their reply, but it tumbles forward from them.

Youngs boxes again, and then Antoine Dupont, too.

PENALTY! France 11-6 ENGLAND (Marcus Smith penalty, 30 minutes)

20:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A very similar kick to Marcus Smith’s first, and the England fly-half has no issues from the tee.

France 11-3 England, 28 minutes

20:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Much better in attack from England. A purposeful Joe Marchant knocks out the teeth of the French defence as he hits a short line up the centre, very nearly breaking free of the final clutching hands, too. Ellis Genge then adds his meaty input, with France offside, but England run out of ideas when Henry Slade doesn’t manage to get an offload away, and will have to settle for that penalty .

France 11-3 England, 27 minutes

20:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France have had a pretty good first half-hour or so but their handling has not been quite right. Virtually every time they have been about to scythe England open, they’ve knocked on, this time Gabin Villiere guilty after Melvyn Jaminet had cleverly attacked the short side on kick return.

France 11-3 England, 26 minutes

20:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Oh dear – Jack Nowell is in some bother. He landed awkwardly after competing for a high ball and I fear his race may be run.

It is. Off goes Nowell, with Elliot Daly giving a consoling pat on the rump as he replaces him.

France 11-3 England, 25 minutes

20:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Marcus Smith lowers the shoulder and makes a dent, but England soon return to Plan A, looking to the heavens with a high kick. France claim it well.

Less so on this occasion! Freddie Steward chases superbly after Smith’s latest and snatches it out of Melvyn Jaminet’s hands.

But France rally. Maro Itoje is hauled back as he dilly-dallies at the base of a ruck and Anthony Jelonch is in like a shot, snatching the ball away. Antoine Dupont kicks well and France make a massive territorial gain.

PENALTY! FRANCE 11-3 England (Melvyn Jaminet penalty, 24 minutes)

20:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Melvyn Jaminet is content enough to dash back having collected three, though. A pleasant thud as he boots the ball between the uprights.

France 8-3 England, 23 minutes

20:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This French attack is getting closer and closer to clicking and really cutting England open. An English maul infringement allows them to play with freedom, painting pretty pictures with delicate brushstrokes and the heavier splodges from Uini Atonio and co., but another handling error five metres out in the left corner ends their hopes of a five-pointer.

France 8-3 England, 22 minutes

20:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England kick ball away, again, and France return with a better directed effort, forcing George Furbank to trot over to the touchline to try and retrieve it. And that is a real mistake from Furbank, getting chalk on his boots as he gathers while stepping into touch and giving France ideal attacking platform just outside the England 22.

France 8-3 England, 20 minutes

20:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty to England! That is not a popular decision with the home crowd, who boo, hiss and whistle as Jaco Peyper rules that Damian Penaud’s nudge is the cause of the issue, with Nowell more of a victim. It’s a fair enough call, really, but the Stade de France does not agree.

France 8-3 England, 20 minutes

20:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nowell isn’t looking at Jaminet, and he’s bumping up against a retreating Damian Penaud, but Jaminet has landed really nastily. How will the officials view this?

France 8-3 England, 20 minutes

20:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Now then. Jack Nowell could be in a bit of bother here. Melvyn Jaminet rose high to claim the latest skyward lift from England, and rather tumbled over Nowell, who failed to leave his feet. Jaco Peyper wants a chat with Marius Jonker…

France 8-3 England, 20 minutes

20:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Now then. Jack Nowell could be in a bit of bother here. Melvyn Jaminet rose high to claim the latest skyward lift from England, and rather tumbled over Nowell, who failed to leave his feet. Jaco Peyper wants a chat with Marius Jonker…

Gael Fickou’s try

20:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

PENALTY! France 8-3 ENGLAND (Marcus Smith penalty, 19 minutes)

20:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England get on the board. A good strike from Smith.

France 8-0 England, 17 minutes

20:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ellis Genge is warming to the task. He beats three defenders on his latest foray from a withheld position, but England’s phase play is again plagued by an inability to support the ball carrier, stalling their momentum.

This time, though, France become overly excited at the prospect of a counter-ruck and are pinged from arriving from the side. Marcus Smith fancies his chances from 41 metres, just right of centre, as well he might.

TRY! FRANCE 8-0 England (Gael Fickou try, 15 minutes)

20:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And over Gael Fickou goes! It all got a little fast and loose in the middle, but France manage to keep hold of the ball with Villiere offloading brilliantly to Cameron Woki. Antoine Dupont spins it, finding half-back mate Romain Ntamack, who puts a miss ball over the top for Fickou.

The centre gathers on the hop, and has the speed and strength to beat George Furbank to the corner to cross for France’s first try. The conversion sails by.

France 3-0 England, 14 minutes

20:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England concede a penalty at the lineout but France fancy more. Around the corner they draw in the defenders and then it is worked delightfully to the left. Gabin Villiere is just about handled by Joe Marchant, but England look under-resourced on the opposite wing…

France 3-0 England, 13 minutes

20:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England are just beginning to make real progress with their kicking game. Melvyn Jaminet skews a rather nasty reply after Marcus Smith had turned the French full-back, and the visitors run back with interest.

But more breakdown inaccuracy in attack allows France to again pilfer ruck ball. England need to tighten up their clearout and support play.

France threaten to go the distance with penalty advantage but another untimely fumble ends their hopes on halfway. Back for the penalty.

France 3-0 England, 11 minutes

20:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Something clever from France, throwing beyond the tail and attempting to pop back to Antoine Dupont on the inside, but Jamie George has it well marked, celebrating the knock-on with a punch of the air.

France 3-0 England, 10 minutes

20:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Antoine Dupont is getting remarkable distance on his boxed clearances. England play this one quickly, with Genge’s third carry from the backfield ended with a bump from France, who are bracing well for the loosehead’s charges.

But an aerial error will allow England a chance to play inside the France half. Only briefly, though, before it is back to the boot…

And Freddie Steward is the high man to grab it! But only briefly – France jackal strongly and win the turnover penalty. Early joy for England’s bombardment, though – Steward didn’t even have to leap.

PENALTY! FRANCE 3-0 England (Melvyn Jaminet penalty, 9 minutes)

20:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Through it goes. France lead.

France 0-0 England, 8 minutes

20:08 , Harry Lat

But England infringe at the scrum and France will have a penalty right in front. Melvyn Jaminet gestures for the kicking tee as Antoine Dupont indicates towards the posts…

France 0-0 England, 7 minutes

20:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A real chance missed! It’s delightful interplay from France from the set-piece, Damian Penaud providing linking hands from the blindside wing having darted behind Romain Ntamack. Great open acreage appears in front of Gael Fickou but the centre, normally so assured, knocks on!

France 0-0 England, 6 minutes

20:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England play out to the left and Jack Nowell can collect metres up the touchline after a nice George Furbank pass, but France get over the ball and force Nowell to hold on.

France 0-0 England, 5 minutes

20:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There Genge is again, this time more decisively brought down by the French eight. It’s something Leicester have tried before, getting a real power carrier in the backfield.

France 0-0 England, 4 minutes

20:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Off goes Ellis Genge! The prop lurks in the backfield and sets off on a rumble after he is passed the ball, bashing away one would-be tackler. Intriguing ploy from England.

France 0-0 England, 3 minutes

20:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another kick from Smith, this time jauntier, lifting for Freddie Steward to rush on to on the wing. There’s a little bit of space, but Smith hasn’t quite flighted it enough, and France watch it hop into touch.

France 0-0 England, 2 minutes

20:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Almost inevitably, Jaco Peyper will have to reset the first engagement, which wasn’t quite lining up right.

It’s better the second time round and England play away from a stable base. Marcus Smith loops round the back and stabs a grubber through, but France get men back to smother and clear. It’s an outstanding kick, too, from Antoine Dupont, gaining a load of ground. England lineout inside their own half.

France 0-0 England, 1 minute

20:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right away, Ben Youngs goes to the air, but France handle their aerial duties well.

That’s less sharp from the hosts, though, Anthony Jelonch fumbling a hip-high pass on the left. Scrum to England, 40 out from the French line. Who will have an early set-piece edge?


20:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France vs England has begun!

France vs England

20:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

On the ball comes in the little electric remote controlled car. Romain Ntamack snares it with a single right hand. It’s Crunch time.

Match Officials

19:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Keeping his cool in the middle is referee Jaco Peyper, who will have a big role to play. Fellow South African Marius Jonker is the TMO.

France will kick things off…

La Marseillaise

19:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s no noise at all, though, compared to the accompaniment for “La Marseillaise”. Does a Grand Chelem beckon?

God Save the Queen

19:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There are a few sections of England supports who have braved the trip and hostile atmosphere. They give “God Save the Queen” some welly, making themselves heard as the players gather as one, arms on shoulders.

Solidarity with Ukraine

19:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And now the Stade de France crowd join in with the minute of applause in support of Ukraine, with the players and match officials also observing it impeccably.

What a roar!

19:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Out come the players, and the Stade de France rises to greet them. It’s loud.

France vs England

19:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Here we go

19:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is it – France seeking Le Grand Chelem, England Six Nations salvation. The Stade de France is ready to explode as the lights dim and the players ready themselves in the tunnel.

Le Crunch

19:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France determined to crown resurgence against wounded England

Kick-off nears

19:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Boos and whistles as Eddie Jones’ name is read out by the stadium announcer ahead of kick-off. The England head coach is not popular in these parts.

The England team are also booed off as they traipse down the tunnel.

Another French success in a post-Lions year?

19:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France have history of winning the Grand Slam the spring after a Lions tour – can they do it again?

France vs England

19:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

They know how to drum up the crowd at the Stade de France. I feel for the shoulders of anyone holding one of the France Rugby branded tricolores – they’ve barely stopped waving, and the chants of “Allez Les Bleus” are becoming more and more regular as anticipation builds.

The battle at the lineout

19:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The other aerial aspect to touch upon is the lineout. Wales managed to disrupt so much French ball in Cardiff, recognising the reliance on Cameron Woki, who is still finding his way as an international lineout caller. England have loaded up on jumpers, with Nick Isiekwe recalled to join Maro Itoje at lock, and Courtney Lawes back at six after a sojourn in his old second row stomping ground a week ago.

Itoje has had an outstanding tournament, with Eddie Jones predicting that he is Everesting again and preparing to ascend to another level. You’d think if England are to pull off what would be a shock win, Itoje will have to be at the heart of it.

Maro Itoje sends rallying cry to England ahead of France test

19:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

We’ve focussed on the kicking battle a lot, but it really will be key. So much of what this outstanding French side does is predicated on their strength in that regard – and England will have to get things right…

The atmosphere

19:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The Stade de France isn’t even close to full yet but already it is bouncing to the rhythms of the in-house DJ, French flags waving right around. This could be a special atmosphere if France dance to Le Grand Chelem – but could the nervous energy play a role if England begin strongly?

How the table sits with one game left

19:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Irish hopes rest in English hands

19:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The French bench impact

19:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France will be hoping that they will not require a huge impact from their bench, but this is a unit prepared to add plenty of second-half punch if needed. Replicating the strategy used by South Africa during the World Cup, Fabien Galthie has a second set of tight five forwards who are all similar to the players in the starting XV they will replace.

It’s been a wretched tournament for England in the final quarter of games, ceding the lead in defeat to Scotland, failing to ignite against Italy, nearly allowing Wales to storm back, and then, having fought valiantly, letting Ireland power away last time out. This is the fittest French side of recent memory, aided by a pre-Six Nations training camp alongside the French Foreign Legion – if things are close come the 60-minute mark then that could make the difference.

Can I Kick It?

19:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Barring a rather large surprise, expect this to be a kick-heavy Crunch. France kick more than any team in the competition and the indication is that England intend to match them, having seen the success of Wales’ shrewd strategy with the boot in Cardiff last Friday.

There is a thought that France’s back three might be vulnerable under the high ball: Damian Penaud is a converted centre, Gabin Villiere an ex-Sevens start and late developer, and Melvyn Jaminet hasn’t looked entirely secure aerially during his first Six Nations. With Freddie Steward on the wing and Ben Youngs at scrum-half, England are ready to provide a stiff challenge.

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent’s website

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