On This Day: France edge past England for Grand Slam

On this day in 2010, France sealed their ninth Grand Slam with a narrow victory over England in what was the final match of that year’s Championship.

On this day in 2010, France sealed their ninth Grand Slam with a narrow victory over England in what was the final match of that year’s Championship.

The game itself played on the nerves of the Stade de France crowd, but three penalties from Morgan Parra helped Les Bleus to a 12-10 win that sent the vast majority of them home jubilant.

Setting the scene

France had been the class act in the Championship throughout the campaign and they had set themselves up for the Grand Slam with a 46-20 victory over Italy that saw centre David Marty score two of their six tries.

Their 17th title had already been secured thanks to Ireland’s 23-20 defeat to Scotland at Croke Park earlier in the day.

After winning their first two games, England were out of the running thanks to a 15-15 draw against the Scots in Edinburgh in round four, but they had beaten the French in their previous three Championship encounters.

France head coach Marc Lievremont made just one change with Marty left out despite his heroics against the Italians, meaning Mathieu Bastareaud was recalled at outside centre after recovering from a calf strain.

England team manager Martin Johnson brought some fresh faces into his line-up, as Chris Ashton was given his international debut and Ben Foden his first Championship start in two of seven alterations.

How the action unfolded

It looked to be following the script for France when Francois Trinh-Duc landed a drop goal after just four minutes, but England responded almost immediately, with their new boys to the fore.

Some quick hands down the left from Riki Flutey and Chris Ashton set Ben Foden racing away to score in the corner, with Toby Flood kicking the conversion.

France went back on the attack and moved to within one point through Morgan Parra’s penalty and a dominant scrum allowed the scrum-half to add two more before half-time to open up a 12-7 lead.

But England were an improved team in the second half and proceeded to dominate territorially, much to the frustration of the Paris crowd.

The visitors missed a great opportunity to score when Ashton chose to kick ahead with Flutey in support and only French full back Clement Poitrenaud to beat.

They did pull back three points through a long-range Jonny Wilkinson penalty, but they couldn’t make their pressure count and a relieved France could celebrate their Grand Slam.

What they said

France head coach Marc Lievremont said: “I am very proud of this team for the bravery they showed in the 80 minutes.”

“I would have preferred us to take more control of the match and to have more of a spectacle, but the main thing was to win.

“We were pragmatic. As for a spectacle, we did produce some during the five matches. It is five victories and a Grand Slam but we have to pay tribute to the England team.

“It was very difficult and they played their best against us. I was extremely relieved at the end of the match.”

What happened next

France were unable to take their NatWest 6 Nations form into the summer, where a 42-17 loss against South Africa in Cape Town was followed by a 41-13 defeat to Argentina in Buenos Aires.

England came back from Australia with a creditable 1-1 series draw, after tries from Ben Youngs and Chris Ashton helped to a memorable 21-20 second Test victory in Sydney.

England won the 2011 NatWest 6 Nations, with their campaign including a 17-9 win over France, who went on to finish runners-up. Their 2010 title is their most recent to date.