England were crowned Six Nations champions as Ireland slipped to a 35-27 defeat to France at the Stade de France.

With Eddie Jones' side having beaten Italy 34-5 in Rome earlier on Saturday, Ireland went into the finale knowing they needed to at least win by seven points – or take a bonus-point victory – to claim their fifth Six Nations title.

After a combative first-half display Andy Farrell's side could not match their hosts following the interval, with a try and three penalties from the brilliant Romain Ntamack putting France in control by the 51st minute.

Ntamack's fellow half-back Antoine Dupont also put in a stellar display, opening the scoring six minutes in before turning provider for Ntamack's try.

Cian Healy had hit back for Ireland, though a penalty try conceded by Caelan Doris gave France a lead they did not relinquish, and by failing to win by 31 points they handed England the title.

France struck first as Gael Fickou raced clear down the wing before finding Dupont, who easily got the better of Jacob Stockdale to slide in close to the sticks – Ntamack adding the extras.

A frantic opening 10 minutes concluded with a lengthy TMO check, which resulted in Anthony Bouthier receiving a yellow card for deliberately knocking the ball out of play.

Ireland made their numerical advantage count with a minute of Bouthier's time in the bin remaining, Healy forcing his way over to mark his 100th cap in style.

Sexton converted and then added a penalty to put Ireland ahead, but momentum swung France's way when Doris dragged back Francois Cros close to the line.

Another Sexton three-pointer dragged Ireland to within a point before Ntamack's penalty gave Les Bleus a 17-13 half-time lead.

Ntamack added five points to his tally three minutes after the restart, touching down after Dupont had superbly kept a France attack alive.

France's fly-half missed the conversion but made no mistake with two penalties in the space of four minutes to nose Les Bleus 15 points clear.

Robbie Henshaw raced down Ireland's left to lunge over in the corner with 21 minutes remaining and provide hope for a comeback.

But Ntamack wriggled through a gap and set up Virimi Vakatawa to seal France's second-place finish, with Stockdale snatching a late consolation for the visitors.

England have won the Six Nations following France's 35-27 victory over Ireland in the final game of the tournament in Paris on Saturday.

The battle for the Six Nations title is finally set to come to a thrilling climax on Saturday.

Ireland have their fate in their own hands after they hammered Italy last weekend in the only round four match that could not take place before the tournament was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

If Andy Farrell's side secure a bonus-point win over France in the final match of the competition in Paris they will get their hands on the trophy, but Les Bleus are also in contention.

England are the favourites to be crowned champions, as they trail leaders Ireland by only a point and will be expected to seal a bonus-point victory over Italy in Rome.

Scotland and Wales, who sit fourth and fifth respectively, end their campaigns with a clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Ahead of what promises to be a tense finale to the tournament, we use Opta data to preview the three matches.

 

Wales v Scotland

- Wales have won 14 of their last 16 Six Nations games against Scotland (L2), including their last eight in a row on home soil, with Scotland's only victory in Wales in the championship coming in 2002.

- Scotland come into the match having won back-to-back games in the Six Nations. They have not won three in a row in the Five/Six Nations since 1996 - when they beat Ireland, France and Wales in succession.

- Wales have lost their last three Six Nations games, their worst run in the championship since a five-game losing streak spanning the 2006 and 2007 editions.

- Scotland's Stuart Hogg has carried the ball for 377 metres in this Six Nations, more than any other player. No player has made more metres over the gain line than Hogg - with Jacob Stockdale also making 305m.

Italy v England

- England have won all of their 26 matches against Italy, 20 of those coming in the Six Nations. The Red Rose are the only side the Italians have failed to beat since joining the championship in 2000.

- Italy have lost 26 consecutive games in the Six Nations since beating Scotland in 2015, the longest losing run by any side in history of the tournament. Only twice during that run have they been beaten by a single-figure margin (v France 2016, v Scotland 2018).

- England have scored four or more tries in each of their last six Six Nations matches against Italy, with an average winning margin of 33 points across those six victories.

- After defeat to Ireland last weekend, Italy are assured of a 15th wooden spoon and a fifth in a row.

France v Ireland

- France have won just one of their last eight games against Ireland in the Six Nations (D2, L5). They had won seven of their previous eight clashes in the championship before that run (L1).

- The last four Six Nations meetings between France and Ireland in Paris have seen the sides separated by fewer than three points (France W1, Ireland W2, D1).

- France have won their last three home games in the Six Nations, their best run since 2013-14 (W3). The last time they enjoyed a longer winning streak on home soil in the competition was a nine-game run stretching from 2008 to 2012.

- Les Bleus are yet to lose a scrum in the 2020 Six Nations, winning all 14 on their own feed, the only side with a 100 per cent success rate at that set-piece.

Gael Fickou will move from centre to the wing in place of the injured Teddy Thomas for France's decisive Six Nations clash with Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

Racing 92 winger Thomas scored the last of France's five tries in last weekend's 38-21 victory over Wales but has been ruled out of the Ireland game at Stade de France with a hamstring injury.

Fickou shifts out wide in the absence of the clinical Thomas, with Arthur Vincent coming in at centre in the only change from the win over Wales.

Explaining his decision, France head coach Fabien Galthie said: "We know that Jonny Sexton uses his foot to put pressure on our wing. Fickou has this experience to deal with it.

"We had to manage the same thing against Wales. Arthur Retiere is also ready and is on the bench."

France are seeking their first tournament triumph in a decade as they gear up to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Les Bleus start their final game in Paris a point behind leaders Ireland and level with England, who face Italy in Rome.

"It's quite simple - we have as much chance of winning as England and Ireland," Galthie said. "But above all we try to be consistent. 

"We want consistency. We should not be weighed down with assumptions of what could happen."

Bernard le Roux again partners Paul Willemse at lock after his citing for an allegedly striking Alun Wyn Jones was dismissed by an independent panel.

The game has been given the all clear to go ahead despite French president Emmanuel Macron tightening the country's coronavirus restrictions this week.

Ireland announced their squad on Wednesday, with Robbie Henshaw replacing injured Leinster team-mate Garry Ringrose in their only change.

France: Anthony Bouthier, Vincent Rattez, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon (captain), Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Arthur Retiere, Thomas Ramos.

Robbie Henshaw has replaced Garry Ringrose as Ireland's only change for Saturday's decisive Six Nations clash with France in Paris.

Leinster centre Ringrose broke his jaw early in last weekend's 50-17 hammering of Italy after being caught by Edoardo Padovani's knee and will miss the next six weeks.

Fellow Leinster player Henshaw came on for Ringrose at the Aviva Stadium and will now start the crucial clash with France at the Stade de France.

Ireland head into their final match of the elongated tournament knowing that a bonus-point victory will secure a fourth title in seven years.

As a result of Henshaw dropping out of the squad, Chris Farrell has been drafted into the Ireland replacements.

Prop Cian Healy is set to win his 100th cap and Johnny Sexton will once again captain Ireland, who are a point ahead of England – whose final game is against Italy in Rome – and opponents France.

 

Ireland: Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Hugo Keenan, Johnny Sexton (c), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Will Connors, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Peter O'Mahony, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Chris Farrell.

John Cooney has been called up to the Ireland squad for the decisive Six Nations clash with France on Saturday as cover for Jamison Gibson-Park.

Gibson-Park reported he is suffering from hamstring tightness after the 50-17 demolition of Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Cooney was left out for that match in Dublin after being on the bench for the defeat to England in February before the tournament was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ulster scrum-half has been drafted in by Andy Farrell ahead of a showdown with Les Bleus in Paris which Ireland start knowing a bonus-point win would secure the title.

Wing Keith Earls is finishing his rehabilitation programme from a back injury and a decision over whether he can face France will be made in the coming days.

Centre Garry Ringrose is out for up to six weeks after suffering a broken jaw in the hammering of the Azzurri.

England trail Ireland by a point but are favourites to be crowned champions as they face Italy in Rome.

Samuel Umtiti has revealed he held talks with Lyon during the transfer window but did not want to leave Barcelona on bad terms.

After a promising start at the club following his 2016 switch from Lyon - where he had spent the previous 14 years - Umtiti has struggled for form and fitness, particularly since the start of 2018-19.

He has made 77 LaLiga appearances for the Catalan giants and ranks highly for interceptions since 2016-17 began, averaging 1.73 per game - behind only Jordi Alba (2.09) among those still at the club.

A return to Lyon was on the cards during the close season but Umtiti would rather turn things around at Camp Nou first.

"Everything was possible during the transfer window," he told Canal+. "Lyon is my club and my city. They gave me the opportunity to be seen.

"There were discussions, but it was quick, nothing concrete. I had to be able to speak with a club. I'll be honest: Barcelona is Barcelona.

"I don't want to leave Barcelona and even less like that."

Umtiti has been blighted by persistent knee problems over the past couple of seasons and has yet to feature under new Barca boss Ronald Koeman.

However, the 26-year-old is hopeful his injury issues are now a thing of the past after a change of lifestyle.

"The last two years have been the most complicated of my career," he said. "Sometimes I got really sick of it. I relapsed each time, and with different injuries because I was trying to compensate.

"It wasn't a knee problem, it was that I had a total imbalance. I had to start over. I stopped eating meat, fish and milk. I feel better, I sleep better. I have never felt so good physically.

"My body has also changed. I have lost three kilos. I have recovered. I have never worked so hard. And I'm happy about it."

Umtiti now intends to rival fellow France international Clement Lenglet for a regular starting spot alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of Barca's backline.

"He occupies my position for Barcelona and the French team," he said. "It doesn't bother me at all. On the contrary - I encourage him and there is a very good understanding between us.

"We could play together. But, I think he knows it: when I come back, I will do anything to get back to my place and to play. But there is no jealousy between us."

Umtiti is not the only French player struggling to make an impact in Catalonia, with Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele also facing regular criticism.

"We have all lived through complicated times," the defender said. "Everyone puts knives behind our backs and wants to kill us. But, between us, we try to laugh in order to smile again."

Ireland will be without Garry Ringrose for their decisive Six Nations showdown with France after the centre was ruled out for up to six weeks with a broken jaw. 

Ringrose was caught in the face by Edoardo Padovani's knee early in the 50-17 hammering of Italy when the Six Nations resumed at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. 

The Leinster player, who was replaced by Robbie Henshaw, will miss the trip to Paris for a final match of the tournament that Ireland will start needing another bonus-point win to secure the title. 

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said: "Garry Ringrose has broken his jaw, so bad news for us all. 

"He's been so good for us the last 10 days, he has been absolutely fantastic with his leadership and he was a big part of the reason why we got what we wanted [versus Italy]. 

"He was unfortunate with his thumb injury earlier in the Six Nations and has come back and had a setback like that which will keep him out for four to six weeks, so we're gutted for Garry."

Ringrose also looks set to sit out the Autumn Nations Cup encounters with Wales, England and Georgia in November. 

Ireland are a point ahead of France and England - who play Italy in Rome - ahead of the final round of Six Nations matches.

Alun Wyn Jones made a record-equalling 148th Test appearance as Wales suffered a 38-21 loss to France in Paris on Saturday.

By representing his country at the Stade de France, Wales captain Jones drew level with New Zealand great Richie McCaw as the most-capped international rugby union players in history.

He was unable to prevent his team from slipping to defeat against France, who will hope to take momentum from their first game since February into the Six Nations finale against leaders Ireland next weekend.

Dan Biggar sent Leigh Halfpenny over for the opening try and added a penalty to put Wales 10-0 up inside 10 minutes, but Cyril Baille and Antoine Dupont crossed to put Les Bleus ahead after the half-hour mark.

Dupont doubled his tally before half-time and, after Biggar and Romain Ntamack traded penalties, he set up Charles Ollivon to score after Josh Adams failed to control a high ball.

Nicky Smith dotted down as Wales made a quick response, but Teddy Thomas chipped over Biggar to seal the win with a stunning solo try.

France coach Didier Deschamps hailed "leader" Paul Pogba after a 2-1 Nations League win over Croatia on Wednesday.

Pogba came off the bench in Zagreb and his long pass led to Lucas Digne setting up Kylian Mbappe's 79th-minute winner.

Antoine Griezmann's eighth-minute opener had earlier been cancelled out by Nikola Vlasic, but France ensured they moved onto 10 points – equal with Portugal in Group A3.

Deschamps was full of praise for Manchester United midfielder Pogba, particularly for the pass that led to Mbappe's goal.

"About Pogba, of course we could talk about him being unquestionable, but we could say the same of Antoine Griezmann," Deschamps told a news conference.

"He is one of the leaders, he has this capacity to be decisive and also to be a leader in the group. He didn't start because it was wiser for him not to start, with the problem that he had.

"But yes, he is one of the most important players of the team. Even though, sometimes, it could have some hard times. But he has this strength to bring together.

"And also, he has this quality in the pre-assist. I don't take away anything from the quality of the centre of Lucas Digne, but he has this technique quality, not necessarily by dribbling as he used to do it before, but this pass is the one that triggers everything."

France will face Finland in a friendly next month before completing their Group A3 campaign against Portugal and Sweden.

Antoine Griezmann says Didier Deschamps knows exactly where to play him after the Barcelona forward played a pivotal role in France's hard-fought win over Croatia. 

Griezmann scored a superb eighth-minute goal, his third international strike of 2020, as Les Bleus prevailed 2-1 in Zagreb. 

The former Atletico Madrid player was deployed in a central position as he worked alongside Anthony Martial and Kylian Mbappe, who netted a late winner after Nikola Vlasic's equaliser.  

While he impressed for France, Griezmann has yet to find form under new Barca boss Ronald Koeman. Playing predominantly on the right flank, the 29-year-old has failed to score or even create a chance in his three LaLiga appearances in 2020-21.

However, he put any club issues to the back of his mind to help his country come out on top in the Nations League clash on Wednesday.

"The coach knows where to put me," Griezmann said of Deschamps in an interview with TF1. "I take advantage of this situation, of this place, of the confidence of the coach and my team-mates. 

"It was a complicated match, not very beautiful to see, not very beautiful to play, on a difficult ground. We knew how to suffer, the most important is to win and show that we are strong."

France's victory keeps them level on points with Group A3 leaders Portugal, the two nations having drawn 0-0 on Sunday. 

"It was difficult for everyone. We knew we were going to have a battle," Deschamps told TF1. 

"We did the right thing in the second half. This team has always had character. Just because you won a title in 2018 doesn't mean you win with a snap of your fingers.  

"If we didn't manage to score against Portugal, it's also because the opposition was good. We had great opposition today even if we had an excellent start to the match."

France edged out Croatia 2-1 thanks to Kylian Mbappe's late effort in an end-to-end Nations League encounter.

Buoyed on by a limited, albeit raucous, home crowd in Zagreb, Croatia looked well placed to push on when Nikola Vlasic cancelled out Antoine Griezmann's stunning eighth-minute opener.

Mbappe failed to convert a gilt-edged chance soon after the world champions broke the deadlock, and Croatia could have made France pay earlier if not for an excellent stop from Hugo Lloris, who was then beaten by Vlasic after the break.

Despite a superb stop from Dominik Livakovic to deny Paul Pogba, France had their winner when Lucas Digne brilliantly teed up Mbappe with 11 minutes remaining.

Griezmann drew France level in Les Bleus 4-2 triumph over Croatia in September, and it did not take long for him to open the scoring this time out as he arrowed a brilliant finish in off the woodwork.

It should have been 2-0 seven minutes later, only for Mbappe to slice wide with the goal gaping, with Anthony Martial seeing a penalty appeal turned down following a tussle with Domagoj Vida.

Mario Pasalic looked set to restore parity when he pounced on a loose ball six yards out, only for Lloris to make an outstanding save with his feet.

Vlasic drilled wide from the edge of the area eight minutes into the second half, yet the playmaker showed no such profligacy soon after when he prodded a fantastic finish across Lloris and into the left-hand corner.

Substitute Pogba made an instant impact, though, and would have restored France's lead if not for Livakovic's reactions.

However, the Manchester United man was to prove decisive, with his raking pass finding Digne, who volleyed in a cross for Mbappe to keep France level pegging with Group A3 leaders Portugal.

 

What does it mean? France keep pace with Portugal

While Portugal, without Cristiano Ronaldo, easily cast aside Sweden in Group A3's other match, it was an altogether more difficult task for Didier Deschamps' side on Wednesday, but the victory, which came despite them having only 47.6 per cent of the possession, keeps them right on the heels of the group leaders. Croatia, meanwhile, remain third on three points.

Griezmann a thorn in Croatia's side 

Following his opener, Griezmann has now scored three goals against Croatia for France. He has only netted more against Germany.

Injury halts superb Digne display

The first-time cross from full-back Digne for Mbappe's winner was exquisite, but the 27-year-old was also excellent defensively, making a game-high seven tackles.

However, his match came to a concerning end late on when he suffered an apparent knee injury, which will be a huge worry for Everton ahead of the Merseyside derby on Saturday.

What's next?

France play Finland in a friendly on November 11, while Croatia are due to play Turkey a day earlier.

Didier Deschamps has said he cannot promise Antoine Griezmann a place in the France team - even though his statistics for Les Bleus look great on paper.

Griezmann has struggled to find his best form since joining Barcelona from Atletico Madrid in July 2019, both with club and country.

He was player of the tournament and top scorer at Euro 2016, and then a World Cup winner with France two years later, but at the age of 29 appears to have lost some of his spark.

Deschamps believes that can return, and on the eve of a Nations League clash with Croatia he said there is no doubting Griezmann's class, even if his most recent form has left much to be desired.

Griezmann was unimpressive in the goalless draw with Portugal on Sunday in Paris, albeit one of a host of star names who failed to live up to their billing, including Cristiano Ronaldo.

France head coach Deschamps said of Griezmann: "I know you're looking at the last game, but look at his stats: 81 caps, 32 goals, 21 assists. It speaks for itself."

He added, however: "It doesn't guarantee him anything, like some other players who could have done better against Portugal. I know his talent and what he can give to the team."

Former France midfielder Alain Giresse questioned the role Griezmann occupied against Portugal, which to his eyes was a more deep-lying position than normal.

Deschamps is aware there is plenty of talk surrounding the man who scored twice and had two assists in France's run to World Cup glory two years ago.

Griezmann's numbers were down at Barcelona last season, with his conversion rate of what Opta defines as 'big chances' a disappointing 38.46 per cent, having been 47.37 in his final year at Atletico and around 60 per cent in each of the previous two campaigns.

"Antoine's position, I can talk about it with him, we've done it for a while," Deschamps said.

"I know very well where he's the most effective, the most influential. It's in a central position obviously. He lacks rhythm, you know why. So, he needs a bit of time, he was much better in the second half compared to the first one [against Portugal]. He's an attacking player but, as he runs a lot, sometimes he's an offensive midfielder."

Deschamps expressed his admiration of Croatia playmaker Luka Modric, who was the driving force behind his country's run to the World Cup final against France in Moscow.

"Luka Modric is a great player and Croatia are much stronger with him, he's very influential n the team, he's a leader on and off the pitch," Deschamps said.

"He didn't get the Ballon d'Or by chance. If Croatia reached the World Cup final in Russia, it's a lot because of Luka Modric.

"On top of that, he's someone I really like, I have met him a few times, he's a good person, very humble and honest.

"We'll watch for him, like every time we're playing against a key player. His position is not very set, but every time he has the ball, he can improve Croatia's game."

Didier Descahmps lauded France for keeping Cristiano Ronaldo quiet but conceded his side were short of their best in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Portugal.

The two remain locked together at the top of Nations League Group A3 after playing out a goalless draw at the Stade de France, which housed 1,000 socially distanced fans.

It was the first meeting between the sides since Portugal's triumph in the Euro 2016 final, but the contest failed to deliver much in the way of drama.

Ronaldo saw a late strike repelled by Hugo Lloris in what was a largely underwhelming clash between the champions of the world and the champions of Europe.

"We can always do better," admitted Les Bleus boss Deschamps.

"With the quality of the opponent we took precautions, we did not see Ronaldo this evening.

"It was more difficult for the attacking units in this game. Sometimes it is the movements that are not good, sometimes the passes do not arrive.

"We have to do better in the last move to win the match."

Deschamps was keen to highlight the excellent defensive work of both teams in shutting out two line-ups full of attacking quality.

"We knew that Portugal was a great team, we must rather talk about the defensive quality of the two teams," he said.

"The midfielders were very efficient in terms of technical accuracy... they allowed us to have more control, especially in the second half."

Next up for France is Wednesday's match away to Croatia.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos was left frustrated by a lack of creativity and "explosiveness" as his side drew 0-0 with France in the Nations League on Sunday.

In front of a home crowd of around 1,000 socially distanced fans at the Stade de France, a host of European football's elite stars were on display in a generally entertaining encounter.

But despite all of the attacking talent on show, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, the match failed to yield a goal, with France unable to claim revenge in the two teams' first meeting since Portugal's triumph in the Euro 2016 final.

Although Portugal came away with a commendable point, Santos seemed a little underwhelmed, as if he was expecting more of a spectacle.

He said: "It was a very balanced game between two teams that were too cautious, especially in offensive terms.

"It doesn't seem like too much respect, we had quality players, but it wasn't a very fast game.

"There was a lack of more aggressive dynamics in the search for the goal. It's in these games that coaches always want more.

"We had to be organised, sure, but we expected creativity, explosiveness to be unleashed. Both teams played on the back foot a bit too much.

"Whenever the game changed from that, the teams created problems for each other."

Portugal right-back Nelson Semedo had a more positive outlook, however.

He said: "I think, in general, the team played a great game. The defence did very well.

"They have a great team, many good players and we managed to control them. We ended up with a draw, we wanted to win, but I don't think it's a bad result."

The stalemate leaves Portugal and France tied on seven points at the summit of Group A3 after three games – Croatia, who beat Sweden 2-1, are four points adrift.

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