France (12) 21

Penalties: Machenaud 7

England (17) 31

Tries: Care, Cole, Watson
Conversions: Farrell 2
Penalties: Farrell 5

England rugby
Hartley returned to the field to collect the Six Nations trophy and bask in the glory as grand slam winners. Getty Images

England held off a resilient France to add a first grand slam for 13 years to their Six Nations crown after a stunning win at the Stade de France. Danny Care, Dan Cole and Anthony Watson all scored tries and though the metronomic boot of Maxime Machenaud, who converted each of his seven penalties, kept Les Blues in touch Eddie Jones' side hung on to finish the championship with a 100% record in Paris.

The claiming of the Calcutta Cup, the Triple crown, the Six Nations title and now the grand slam caps a stunning about-turn for English rugby five months on from the team's humiliating exit from their home World Cup and the appointment of Aussie coach Jones, who has inspired the best from a squad who have fully exercised their demons from last autumn.

George Kruis, Billy Vunipola and Watson have all been crucial, as has new skipper Dylan Hartley - stretchered from the field late on after being knocked out by Uini Antonio's inadvertent knee - who has answered questions over his capacity to lead a new era. Jones' short tenure has been based on returning England back to basics, with their set piece and power game again becoming key to their success.

France were regularly encouraged by England's partiality for conceding breakdown penalties during the 80 minutes, with Machenaud often giving Guy Noves' side hope of a late comeback, and that remains an area of concern ahead of the summer tour to Australia - a team who pride themselves on excelling at the ruck and maul. Nevertheless, victory marks England's return to the summit of northern hemisphere rugby, a space they have not occupied for over a decade, coming after botched grand slam attempts in Dublin in 2011 and Cardiff in 2013.

France vs England
Danny Care set the ball rolling with the first England try. Getty Images

Following a week of off-the-field controversies, England could finally turn their attention to matters at hand with a grand slam and confirmation of their stirring revival since the World Cup under Jones, within tantalising reach. Though prop Joe Marler may yet face punishment from World Rugby for his slur against Samson Lee the clash in the French capital represented a welcome distraction from unwanted politics.

A French side who had showed glimpses of possessing tangible attributes during their championship campaign stood between England and a first Six Nations clean sweep since they won the World Cup in 2003. Noves' side's defeat to Scotland handed the title to England last weekend and prevented the clash being a straight shoot-out for silverware however in the form of Gael Fickou and Wesley Forfana there was plenty of hope they could upset the apple cart once again.

Much of Jones' pre-match optimism rested on England making a fast start in the first 20 minutes but what transpired was an ill-disciplined and often concerning opening with two penalties in as many minutes; the second of which saw Machenaud kick the hosts ahead. Farrell responded immediately though there was no sign the nerves had been calmed as the Saracens man's effort ricocheted through the posts via the upright.

Maxime Machenaud
Machenaud kicked seven penalties to keep France in touch until England pulled away late on. Getty Images

The motivation of pride was enough for France to play with reckless abandon and twice they cut England apart but on both occasions Virimi Vakatawa was unable to feed Fickou on the left wing. England weathered the storm and hit the front for the first time out of nowhere as Care scampered through off the base of the the breakdown, fending off Jefferson Poirot, and going in under the posts.

Francois Trinh-Duc limped off to be replaced by Jules Plisson to compound France's problems but they soon reasserted themselves first as Machenaud closed the deficit to four and then when Scott Spedding darted through, only for Mike Brown to stop him in his tracks. The visitors were happy with their role as the passive aggressors and they soon had a second try as after Anthony Watson kicked on for Jonathan Joseph, it was left to Cole to bundle his way through for his first international try for six years.

Despite their clinical finishing when in possession, England - in the form of James Haskell for a third occasion in the first 40 minutes - continued to allow Les Blues opportunities to keep the scoreboard ticking over and Machenaud duly obliged with two further penalties to keep the home side in touch at the interval. The Racing Metro half-back then struck for a fifth time within two minutes of the restart to draw France to the precipice of parity, after more weak England tackling had allowed Vakatawa through.

Dylan Hartley
Hartley was taken off late on after being knocked unconscious - but would later collect the Six Nations trophy. Getty Images

Farrell restored the five-point lead to the frustration of the home crowd and in a sign perhaps of England's desperation at the eroding of their dominance George Ford's drop goal sailed hopelessly wide. France's attacks were becoming enriched by the stream of errors from their opponents but just as they threatened to cap second half comeback, England extended their lead as following Billy Vunipola's bruising run through Plisson, replacement Ben Youngs' grubber kick fed Watson who dived over in the corner.

An incredible seventh penalty from Machenaud stifled any thoughts the game was up but England's cause was helped by a scrappy passage of play which did neither side's, nor the tournament's, reputation any favours after a gruelling two months. England's task of completing the job in the final 10 minutes was made all the more difficult by the loss of their leader Hartley, who was stretchered off after being knocked out by the knee of replacement Atonio.

However, the hooker's absence would not disrupt England's surge to the clean sweep and as Farrell pushed the lead to 10 with two penalties, amid Xavier Chiocci being sent to the bin for the remainder of the game, France's hope disappeared in the Parisian night; along with joyous English celebrations.


France: 15. Scott Spedding; 14. Wesley Fofana, 13. Gaël Fickou, 12. Maxime Mermoz, 11. Virimi Vakatawa; 10. François Trinh-Duc, 9. Maxime Machenaud; 1. Jefferson Poirot, 2. Guilhem Guirado, 3. Rabah Slimani, 4. Alexandre Flanquart, 5. Yoann Maestri, 6. Damien Chouly, 7. Bernard Le Roux, 8. Loann Goujon.

Replacements: 16. Camille Chat, 17. Uini Atonio, 18. Xavier Chiocci , 19. Paul Jedresiak, 20. Wenceslas Lauret, 21. Sébastien Bézy, 22. Jules Plisson, 23. Maxime Médard.


England:15. Mike Brown, 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. Jack Nowell, 10. George Ford, 9. Danny Care; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. George Kruis, 6. Chris Robshaw, 7. James Haskell, 8. Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Joe Launchbury, 20. Jack Clifford, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Manu Tuilagi, 23. Elliot Daly.