England were crowned Six Nations champions for the third time in five years on Saturday as they beat Italy 34-5 in Rome before watching France’s 35-27 win over Ireland which meant that neither team could overhaul them.England began the day 23 points behind Ireland on points difference and two ahead of France. After a stodgy opening half, they secured a bonus-point win with five tries and set Ireland a target of winning by seven points in Paris.
The Irish couldn’t achieve it and France’s bonus-point victory meant they and England finished together on 18 points, but with England comfortably clear on points difference.
It was a day to remember for England scrumhalf Ben Youngs, who marked his 100th appearance with two smart individual tries and the man of the match award in a generally stuttering performance that improved markedly in the second half.
“I’m obviously very proud but the most important thing for me was to play my part in this team,” Youngs told ITV. “It’s a nice milestone.”
England captain Owen Farrell was a happy man after watching the Paris game in his team’s Rome hotel.
“It got to a point where it seemed like it was going our way and it did,” he told the BBC. “It’s a massive achievement for us as a group to win the Six Nations in the strangest year and circumstances.”
It was a suitably surreal end to the championship, which England began by being ripped apart in the first half of their opening game against France in February but ended, nine months later, with a big win over Italy in an empty Olympic Stadium.
“I’m very proud of all the players and staff, they’ve reacted superbly to the changing situations in the past couple of weeks and remained focused on the goal of winning the Six Nations,” coach Eddie Jones said in a statement.
“It’s strange not having fans in the stadium and we know it is a tough time for the country but we felt your support throughout the campaign and it does make a difference.” (Reuters)