Top Five Six Nations Climaxes
England will be hoping that everything goes to plan at the weekend against Wales as they look to wrap up the 2013 Six Nations, however, there has been plenty of excitement on the final day of the tournament in the past. FREEbets.org.uk have a look at the five tensest finishes in recent years.
1. 2007 – France edge it on points difference
In one of the closest finishes in six nations history France edged out Ireland by the tightest margin imaginable over a five-week tournament. The French hadn’t been completely dominating the competition but they won the first three matches of the event against Italy, Ireland (thanks to a last minute try) and Wales in Paris. They then ran into England at Twickenham though and the home side dished out their first defeat of the contest.
Ireland meanwhile had lost to France in their second contest but after four matches had the same record as the French coming into the fifth contest with three wins and one loss but France held the lead on points difference by just four. Ireland were set to face perennial tournament underdogs Italy but they had won twice in the competition which was better than they had ever done, France were at home to Scotland who had just one win.
Both teams got the win which was expected and required but the crucial factor was how much they won by. Ireland racked up an impressive 51 points in Rome but contrived to concede tries in the 75th and 80th minutes which meant they only won the match 51-24.
France were comfortably ahead of Scotland but needed a last minute try from Elvis Vermeulen, converted by Lionel Beauxis which gave them a 46-19 win, the exact same margin that Ireland managed in Italy. An unbelievable end to a tournament that Ireland will still be cursing to this day.
2. 2006 – France leave it late against Wales
Ireland and France went into the last game of the 2006 level on six points with Ireland having lost to France and the French having suffered a surprise defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield in week one.
France were comfortably ahead on points difference and knew that barring a miracle a win away at Wales would hand them the title whilst Ireland would have to beat England at Twickenham by as much as they could and hope for the best.
The Wales v France contest was on before the England v Ireland match and the French were favourites to win against a Welsh side who had lost to Scotland and drawn with Italy. However, going into the 79th minute it was the underdogs who were 16-11 ahead and France desperately needed points at the death. They duly delivered with a try from Florian Fritz in the 80th minute converted by Jean-Baptiste Elissalde to give them the lead. The same man then kicked a penalty with the last play of the game to give his team the win and the title.
Ireland went on to beat England at Twickenham later in the day but it was too little too late and they had to settle for second place.
3. 2003 – England secure it with final day win
It was the perfect end of tournament showdown as two teams who had won their first four cotests collided with the winner walking away with the title of 2003 Six Nations champions.
Those two teams were England and Ireland who had both been thoroughly impressive throughout. The English, thanks largely to the boot of Jonny Wilkinson had dispatched all before them including a massive 40-5 win over Italy and a 40-9 victory over Scotland.
Ireland’s victories had been tighter beating France by three points and Wales by just one in the penultimate week which set up the blockbuster with England.
Ireland had home advantage in the play-off for the title with the contest held at Lansdowne Road but England were the dominant force going into the contest. Clive Woodward’s side duly continued their dominance as they put Ireland to the sword in something of an anti-climactic finale for the neutrals. Five tries from the English and plenty more points from Wilkinson gave England a 42-6 win and the trophy which set them on their way to a World Cup win later in the year.
4. 1999 – England throw it away
Rarely has a championship been tossed away at the final hurdle as obviously as the 1999 Five Nations, the last tournament before Italy joined in to make it a six-way affair.
England went into the final weekend with three wins from three games having seen off Scotland, Ireland and Wales, they knew that beating Wales (who had won just one from three games) in their final contest would hand them the Grand Slam and the title.
The only team that could usurp them was Scotland who had beaten Wales and Ireland but lost to England leaving them two points behind with one game to play, however their heavy defeat of the Irish had put them in a good position in terms of point difference.
Scotland’s last match came first and they duly beat France in Paris, no mean feat given the French had won the last two championships and the Grand Slam both times. The pressure was on England to perform against Wales and they were doing so as they led 31-25 with just seconds on the clock. Up stepped Scott Gibbs who scored a try in the last minute putting the Welsh one point behind and the boot of Neil Jenkins was as trusty as ever to convert and hand Wales the match.
England lost the championship on points difference having lost by one point to Wales and hearts were broken across the country as Scotland lifted the trophy. Anyone who had cashed in a free bet on the Scots that day would have been dancing through the night.
5. 1995 – England v Scotland showdown
Another perfectly constructed final contest in the tournament as two teams with a 100% record meet in the final in a one-off bout for the title. In 1995 it was England and Scotland who faced-off at Twickenham with the winner lifting the famous trophy.
Both had seen off the other three nations with varying degrees of ease, the Scots beating France 23-21 in Paris a memorably dramatic clash, and prepared to do battle in London.
England were favourites going into the contest with home advantage and given they had won their matches more convincingly than the Scots till that point. They didn’t disappoint those who had backed them either as they prospered 24-12 with amazingly no tries being scored in the entire match. Rob Andrews kicked all of England’s points whilst Scott Hastings and Craig Chalmers between them couldn’t match Andrews’ score. England won the series and the Grand Slam in the process with Twickenham going crazy.