France’s Grand Slam deciders down the years

Fabien Pelous 6/4/2002 DIGITAL
With just one round of Guinness Six Nations action left, France remain in with a chance of claiming their first Grand Slam since 2010.

With just one round of Guinness Six Nations action left, France remain in with a chance of claiming their first Grand Slam since 2010.

Fabien Galthié’s men have so far swept aside Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with just England standing in the way of a potential clean sweep.

Grand Slams never come easy, however, with plenty of thrilling rugby playing out during the final round of fixtures over the years as Grand Slam hopes have been both dashed and realised in dramatic fashion.

Here are some of France’s best Grand Slam deciders.

2010 – France 12 England 10

France’s last Grand Slam, which came more than a decade ago, was decided in a nervy and enthralling encounter at the Stade de France.

England could not win the Championship having already lost to Ireland and drawn against Scotland but put up a fierce fight to attempt to deny France a first Grand Slam in six years.

François Trinh-Duc opened the scoring with a drop goal before Ben Foden put England ahead with a try minutes later.

However, a dominant French scrum allowed the trusty boot of Morgan Parra to kick France to Grand Slam victory despite a Jonny Wilkinson penalty creating a nervy ending.

2004 – France 24 England 21

Going into the last day of the 2004 Six Nations, both France and England were in with a chance of winning the Championship.

France knew a win would secure a Grand Slam while England needed to win by eight points to snatch the title in Paris.

The boot of Dimitri Yachvili nudged France ahead before he kicked beautifully to play in Imanol Harinordoquy to score the opening try and put the hosts 10-0 ahead.

Yachvili then scored a brilliant try of his own as France led 21-3 at half-time but England launched a second-half comeback through tries from Ben Cohen and Josh Lewsey but it was not enough as France claimed the Championship and the Grand Slam.

2002 – France 44 Ireland 5

England had been denied the Grand Slam in their final match in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and in the end it was France who claimed the first slam of the Six Nations era.

This one was all but over in half an hour, Serge Betsen going over after two minutes and then Nicolas Brusque and Aurélien Rougerie helping make it 25-5 after 31 minutes.

Gérald Merceron kicked penalties either side of half-time, racking up 16 points in all, and Betsen and Brusque added to their first-half scores as France eventually cruised to victory.

1998 – Wales 0 France 51

France romped to their second successive Grand Slam with a stunning whitewash against Wales at Wembley.

Tries from Fabien Galthié, Stéphane Glas, Thomas Lièvremont and braces from Xavier Garbajosa and Jean-Luc Sadourny saw Les Bleus crowned in style to clinch back-to-back Grand Slams.

But it was Thomas Castaignède, in his bleached blonde hair, who pulled the strings in the Wembley sunshine.

1997 – France 47 Scotland 20

France sealed a first Grand Slam for ten years as they comfortably beat Scotland on the final day of the 1997 Championship in Paris.

The crucial match had come a fortnight earlier as France fought back from 20-6 down at Twickenham against England to win 23-30.

Christophe Lamaison scored a try, two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal to inspire France to a stunning comeback and keep the Grand Slam dream alive.

These dreams were then realised two weeks later as France put 47 points past Scotland thanks to tries from Abdelatif Benazzi, Olivier Magne, Laurent Leflamand, and Franck Tournaire.

1991 – England 21 France 19

Both sides went into the final round of matches, setting up a thrilling finale where either side could come away as Grand Slam champions at Twickenham.

England had come close to the title in previous years and finally claimed the Championship thanks to a Rory Underwood try and the boots of Simon Hodgkinson and Rob Andrew.

The game also saw Twickenham’s try of the century, as Philippe Saint-André went under the posts to complete a stunning French move that started on their own try line.

1987 – Ireland 13 France 19

France claimed their second Grand Slam of the decade with a victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

Ireland were still unbeaten at that point but still had a game to play against Wales, but were beaten by France thanks to two tries from Éric Champ and the boot of Phillipe Bérot, who would finish the Championship as top point scorer.

1984 – Scotland 21 France 12

1984 was just the second time both teams faced off in the final round of matches both unbeaten.

The Grand Slam was on the line at Murrayfield as France sought to win their second Grand Slam in four years.

However, they were stymied by a Scotland side who won only their second-ever Slam and first for 59 years.

Peter Dods kicked five penalties and converted James Calder’s try to secure the win and deny France despite Jérôme Gallion’s try.

1981 – England 12 France 16

France sealed their third Grand Slam at Twickenham as they edged past England.

Two tries were the key as Pierre Lacans and Laurent Pardo went over the line, while England were limited to just four penalties from the boot of Marcus Rose.

Lacans surged through after picking up a superb offload to put France 9-0 ahead, and Pardo then went across the line to finish off a flowing move.

It sealed a famous win for France at the home of rugby to secure their seventh title and an historic Grand Slam

1978 – Wales 16 France 7

This was the first time that two sides faced off against each other on the final day of the Championship with both sides still able to achieve a Grand Slam.

The game turned out to be one of the absolute classics, with Wales ultimately claiming victory and sealing a famous Grand Slam.

France took the lead through a try from Jean-Claude Skrela before Wales hit back through two tries from Phil Bennett to complete a Gareth Edwards-inspired fightback.

1977 – Ireland 6 France 15

Les Bleus sealed a second-ever Grand Slam with victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 1977.

A try from Jean-Pierre Bastiat was the difference maker as France sealed their sixth Championship title.

France also completed the feat of winning all four games with the same 15 players, a feat that had never previously achieved and has never been done since.

1968 – Wales 9 France 14

France’s first-ever Grand Slam came all the way back in 1968, sealing the deal with a 14-9 victory over Wales in Cardiff.

Tries from Lilian Camberabero and Christian Carrère in tandem with the kicking of Guy Camberabero was enough for France to go undefeated for the first time since their entry into the tournament in 1910.

It also meant back-to-back Championships for France under coach Jean Prat after also winning the Championship in 1967.