French win crowns England
19 Mar 2011
France outplayed Wales in their 28-9 win in Paris, a victory that handed England the 2011 Six Nations title.
In the final fixture of the campaign, Wales needed at least a 27-point away victory over France to claim a surprise Six Nations crown as England lost to Ireland in Dublin hours earlier. Despite France’s infighting after their shock defeat to Italy in Rome last weekend, it was always going to be a tough challenge to triumph at a packed Stade de France.
But the way Wales played, you wouldn’t have thought they were gunning for the title. The visitors employed a tactical approach when an expansive game plan was needed. Yes, it would’ve been a gamble, but one that was required if they wanted to cause a major upset in the French capital.
Warren Gatland’s charges also made telling mistakes on defence and at the breakdown which cost them the game. Two of these errors led to lock Lionel Nallet’s double while flyhalf James Hook was sent to the sin bin at a crucial stage of the match. These offences compounded Wales’ woes and saw them fall far short of their target.
Soon after the kickoff, Wales built early attacking momentum as they surged into the French red zone in the opening minutes. They were rewarded with a penalty, one that should’ve been booted into touch in order to capitalise on their field position. Instead, Hook was ordered to kick for posts and the visitors were content with a 3-0 lead.
France then hit back as scrumhalf Morgan Parra slotted two penalties before Nallet latched on to a loose ball at the ruck and dashed 25m to the whitewash for a 11-3 half-time lead.
After the break, Hook slotted another penalty, but he then cost his team seven points as his clearance was charged down from the resulting restart, which saw Nallet complete his brace. Hook and Parra traded penalties before the Wales No 10 picked up a yellow card in the 56th minute for his dangerous tackle on the latter. With a one-man advantage, France scored their third try through wing Vincent Clerc to seal a comprehensive victory.