France secured their first Grand Slam in 12 years with a 25-13 win against Eddie Jones’ England that showed just how strong Fabien Galthié’s side has become.
It was a brilliant Championship, filled with a competitive spirit and sublime skill, meaning France had to be at the top of their game and dominate the big moments in all five of their matches.
With that in mind, and with Rugby’s Greatest Championship now behind us, what better time to look at the five key moments from France’s Slam success.
Gabin Villière’s hat-trick against Italy
Gabin Villière got France’s 2022 Guinness Six Nations off to a flying start when he scored three tries in the convincing 37-10 win against Italy.
He first crossed the whitewash right at the end of the first half after some intelligent play left the 26-year-old in acres of space out wide.
His first try was his most important, taking the score from 11-10 to 18-10 to give his side an eight-point advantage after 40 minutes. It was set up by some stunning hands from Romain Ntamack and Damian Penaud before Melvyn Jaminet put Villière away.
After the break, Villière grabbed another, stepping Italy full-back Edoardo Padovani to score a superb second that wrapped up France’s win.
And the third came after some wild distribution from the France backline once again left the electric winger in space out wide.
Melvyn Jaminet’s sixth penalty against Ireland
It may not have the same gloss as Villière’s hat-trick. Still, Melvyn Jaminet’s sixth penalty against Ireland was absolutely crucial to France securing the 2022 Guinness Six Nations title and their tenth Grand Slam.
It was not a difficult kick, just in front of the posts and from no distance at all, but the pressure in the moment was enormous after Ireland launched a stunning fightback to reduce the deficit between the two sides to three points.
But it could have been even better for France, with Jaminet having a try disallowed moments before bringing the ball back for the easy three points.
With the benefit of hindsight, we know how vital that win was to France winning the Championship, and there is no telling how vital securing that extra little bit of breathing room was.
Gaël Fickou’s score just before half-time against Scotland
France showed off some sublime skill during the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, and their win at BT Murrayfield turned on some magic just before the break.
Stuart Hogg had just failed to grasp Chris Harris’ wide pass as Scotland looked to take the lead for the first time.
Then right on the stroke of half-time, Gaël Fickou received the ball on the edge of Scotland’s 22 before going on an arcing run into the right-hand corner, beating Ali Price to the edge to dot down.
It was a superb try, but more importantly, it sent France into the break with a crucial nine-point lead where Scotland thought they could have gone in front minutes earlier. Jonathan Danty then added the fourth try right after half-time and the game was over as a contest.
Anthony Jelonch scoring the only try of the game against Wales
Wales had a disappointing 2022 Guinness Six Nations, but they saved one of their best performances for their clash with the soon to be Grand Slam winners.
France beat Wales 13-9 at Principality Stadium, with Anthony Jelonch scoring the decisive try to help the visitors wrap up their fourth win of the Championship.
It came from a half-break by Jaminet, who then put Villière away down the right. France then showed patience as they moved into the 22 before slick work from the backs opened up space on the right for Jelonch to race over for the opening try after eight minutes.
Wales fought back and were right in the game. They will certainly look back on Jonathan Davies’ failure to take Taulupe Faletau’s inside pass just after the hour as a crucial moment. But France’s defence held strong and that Jelonch score proved to be the difference.
Gaël Fickou’s turnover against England
Many people thought England could cause an upset when they travelled to Paris to take on France, but the game finished 25-13, despite a resilient performance from Eddie Jones’ side.
France looked a class above in the first half, François Cros’ try just before half-time making it 18-6 to the home side.
But the nerves must have been jangling when Freddie Steward went over early in the second half and then England got back into the French 22 soon after with just five points between the sides.
It was here that France’s defence came through, Sam Underhill chopped down in the manner that he is used to doing to opponents, and Fickou getting over the ball to win a crucial turnover penalty on 55 minutes.
Five minutes later, Antoine Dupont was in for France’s third try and they never looked back.
The steal was vital to France’s first Six Nations title win since 2010, and it was well deserved after a fantastic performance in the 2022 edition of Rugby’s Greatest Championship.