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Bernard Laporte’s France overcame a shock opening round loss to Scotland to claim a 15th title, and a third RBS 6 Nations crown since Italy’s addition to the tournament.
It didn’t come easy though, with Florian Fritz’s try in the dying stages of France’s final game against Wales proving the decisive moment.
Led by an outstanding trio of half-backs in Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, Dimitri Yachvili and Frédéric Michalak, backed up by a powerful pack, France eventually proved just too strong for the rest.
Ireland, who pushed them all the way, had to settle for a well-deserved Triple Crown, including a second successive win at Twickenham over England.
The opening round belonged to England and Scotland however, with the former crushing reigning champions Wales at Twickenham 47-13 running in six tries, and the latter beating France for the first time in seven years, 20-16.
Meanwhile, Ireland did just enough to edge past Italy, 26-16, with two late Ronan O’Gara penalties easing their nerves at Lansdowne Road.
France bounced back in the second week with a 43-31 win over Ireland in a crazy game where they raced into a 40-point lead thanks to braces from Cedric Heymans and David Marty, only to see the Men in Green roar back with four tries of their own.
In week three Scotland won a tryless affair 18-12 to reclaim the Calcutta Cup thanks to 15 points from Chris Paterson.
A fortnight later in the Le Crunch, England endured a nightmare start when Fritz went over in the first minute, as Les Bleus completed a record-breaking 31-6 win.
All that meant Ireland trailed France by 28 points on points difference heading into the final weekend. As a result, a win would almost certainly guarantee the title for Les Bleus.
After Paterson’s last-gasp penalty had helped Scotland to a 13-10 win in Rome, Wales looked like doing Ireland a favour when they led 16-11 in the closing stages in Cardiff.
But that wasn’t accounting for a moment of magic from Michalak, who produced a deft chip for Toulouse teammate Fritz to go over, and Elissalde added another penalty for good measure to seal the 21-16 success.
Ireland therefore needed to beat England by 29 points to claim an unlikely first Championship in 22 years.
That was always going to prove a long shot but the Irish did manage a pulsating victory at Twickenham, Shane Horgan going over for his second try in the final minute to seal a 28-24 win and sew up second place in the table for the third time in four years.