After losing vital matches to Wales and Australia at Twickenham, the RFU decided it was time for a change. Out went Stuart Lancaster and in came former Australian coach Eddie Jones to build a new squad for the six nation’s campaign and another tilt at world cup glory.
In the French capital, England knew that defeating their rivals would bring with it, a slam they last won in 2003 under Sir Clive Woodward and the leadership of Martin Johnson. That team went on to lift the world cup.
This new look England squad, with new captain Dylan Hartley taking over from Chris Robshaw, has seen victories in Edinburgh and Rome, with a brace of wins in London over Ireland and Wales.
An open first half, with numerous mistakes by the home side, see England take advantage. A quarter into the first half, see Danny Care sprint away from a French ruck and go over the line for the first England try. Ten minutes later it was the turn of Dan Cole to go through and, with Owen Farrell adding the conversion, England held a solid 17-6 lead going into the break.
Les Bleus, trying to stop an English side winning the slam in Paris since 1923, started the brighter of the two sides in the second half. Only the superb kicking of Maxime Machenaud kept the Stade de France interest going, as France tried to peg England onto the back foot.
Just as the English looked like they might be folding under French pressure, up stepped Anthony Watson to run home a lay off from second half substitute, Ben Youngs to go over and give victory by 31-21.
In his first year as coach, Eddie Jones said: “Winning the Grand slam means you beat every team the competition and means you’re the most dominant team. Everyone is delighted to be the most dominant team in Europe. But it’s only the first step and we’re moving onto the tour to Australia.”
Having finished second in the six nations four times since 2003, Jones knew it was going to be hard to win it. “It was always going to be difficult having won the tournament and then playing against a French team that had nothing to lose so I’m proud of the team. The great thing is we still have a long way to go.”
Wales beat Italy 67-14 to take second place behind England. Ireland beat Scotland by 35-25 to take third. While the wooden spoon in the championship went to Italy who lost all 5 of their matches.
Meanwhile, in the women’s 6 Nations championship, a thrilling finale took place in Vannes, where France beat England to win the title on the final round of games, in front of a crowd of 10,000.