A last-minute try from Elvis Vermeulen saw France beat Scotland 46-19 and win the Six Nations title.
Needing to win by 24 points to finish ahead of Ireland on points difference, the French were ahead by just 20 after a late try by Scottish tighthead Euan Murray. But the home side surged back into opposition territory and Vermeulen was driven over from a 5m scrum. To add to the drama, the decision was referred to the TMO — an Irishman! — who awarded the championship-winning try.
The French had got off to the worst possible start when Chris Paterson kicked high into the left-hand corner for left wing Nikki Walker. Fullback Clement Poitrenaud took his eye off the ball and a grateful Walker scored.
A penalty from Lionel Beaxis (in for the injured David Skrela) put the home side on the board, but it took them 30 minutes to get their first five-pointer. Having turned down an easy shot at goal, the French tapped a penalty and bashed away at the Scottish tryline with No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy eventually burrowing his way over.
The French struck again three minutes later when scrumhalf Pierre Mignoni broke through the midfield, regathered his chip ahead and put centre Jannick Yauzion away under the posts. Beaxis then kicked another penalty to give his side a 13-point lead.
However, it was Scotland who finished the half strongly when winger Sean Lamont took a quick tap outside the French 22 and darted through untouched for his side’s second try.
The Scots almost went ahead after the break, but Paterson’s “try” was disallowed after a forward pass. France withstood that brief onslaught to score two tries through wingers David Marty and Cedric Heymans, which made it 32-14 going into the final quarter.
Scotland were controversially reduced to 14 men when Sean Lamont was sin-binned for a late tackle made by his brother Rory (Sean was wearing bright orange gloves and has bright bleach-blond hair; Rory had no gloves and dark hair.) A minute later, Olivier Milloud was driven over from a line-out for a try that gave France a 25-point lead.
Murray’s 77th-minute try looked to have gifted Ireland the Six Nations trophy, until Vermeulen scored the most critical five-pointer of his career.
France – Tries: Yannick Jauzion. Imanol Harinordoquy, David Marty, Cedric Heymans, Olivier Milloud, Elis Vermeulen. Conversions: Lionel Beaxis (5). Penalties: Beaxis (2).
Scotland – Tries: Nikki Walker, Sean Lamont, Euen Murray. Conversions: Chris Paterson (2).