France complete Six Nations Slam
|SIX NATIONS STANDINGS|
PARIS, France -- France avenged their Rugby World Cup semifinal defeat by England last year by claiming a Six Nations Grand Slam with a 24-21 win over the world champions in Paris.
Scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili scored 19 points, including a try, as the home side raced into a 21-3 halftime lead.
Imanol Harinordoquy scored France's other try.
England battled back in the second half with wingers Ben Cohen and Josh Lewsey touching down, but with the visitors needing to win by eight points or more the championship had already gone.
France won the Grand Slam for the fourth time in eight years and the eight time overall in front of a record crowd of 79,906 at the Stade de France.
"I am very, very happy, we wanted to win against the best team in the world," said France coach Bernard Laporte.
"I am disappointed but I think France probably deserved to win," said England coach Clive Woodward, whose side finished third in the standings after also losing to Ireland.
"We made a lot of mistakes in the first half and in the second half we went out and took it to them," said England wing Ben Cohen. "We nearly sneaked it."
Ireland crushed Scotland 37-16 in Dublin to claim their first Triple Crown in 19 years.
Gordon D'Arcy grabbed two tries and Geordan Murphy, Peter Stringer and David Wallace each scored one apiece as Ireland inflicted Scotland's fifth defeat of the championship.
The Triple Crown is played for between Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
"The whole team is going to go nuts, it's such an honor for the country," said D'Arcy as Ireland claimed the title for only the sixth time in their history.
Winless Scotland finished bottom of the table.
Wales gave outgoing coach Steve Hansen a winning send-off with a six-try 44-10 win over a disorganized Italy.
Fullback Gareth Thomas broke the Welsh try-scoring record with his 34th in 77 internationals, while wingers Shane and Rys Williams both scored twice.
Tom Shanklin scored within seconds of coming on in the second half to complete Wales' try tally.
"It doesn't get much better than that, it was a good way to finish," said Hansen, who is returning to his native New Zealand to coach the All Blacks.
"They played really well and scored some great tries. To play as well as we did today was pretty satisfying."
Wales finished the championship with four points, after also beating Scotland. Italy also beat Scotland to claim their two points.