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The BBC's Ian Robertson
"The whole season depended upon England winning against France"
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England captain Matt Dawson
"There's few defining moments in your rugby career"
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Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 18:46 GMT
England triumph in Paris

Exhausted England celebrate their first win in Paris since '94
France 9-15 England

England are favourites to lift the Six Nations trophy after an epic victory over France, which marked their first triumph in Paris for six years.

Six Nations Championship
England were always ahead thanks to the boot of Jonny Wilkinson, who kicked all 15 of England's points.

And though France launched a ferocious comeback in stoppage time as England were reduced to 13 men, Matt Dawson's men somehow hung on.

The match had been billed as the potential Championship decider and though it was not an exhibition of free-flowing rugby, it was an intriguing battle of brain and brawn.

Wilkinson: Five out of six
England's forwards, up against the biggest pack in French history, did the damage while fly-half Wilkinson picked off the penalty chances, nailing five out of six kicks.

France were always behind and though stand-in kicker Richard Dourthe kept them in touch with three out of five kicks, they never quite recovered from their early errors.

It might have been different had referee Stuart Dickinson not ruled out a first-half try from centre Thomas Lombard.

Christophe Dominici's superb burst set up Lombard but the linesman flagged for a disputed forward pass.

Castaignede: Could not get his back line going
The frustration prompted the return of the famous French indiscipline as both Olivier Brouzet and substitute Serge Betzen spent ten minutes on the sidelines for deliberate fouls either side of the interval.

The French were rocked by the ferocity and speed of England, who won vital turnovers and forced a series of destructive knocks-on in the wet conditions.

The turning point came with seven minutes remaining after England's Simon Shaw became the third player to be sin-binned.

Dourthe had the chance to take the score back to 12-15 but he slipped just as he was about to make contact with the ball.

Healey: Sin-binned
It left France trailing by six points and in the end was the crucial snag in their last-ditch attempt to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Two men down after Austin Healey was yellow-carded, England somehow repelled the surging wall of blue.

With the passionate 80,000 Stade de France crowd urging then on, France poured forward in search of the try that would bring them within a point of victory.

They won a penalty as England killed the ball but Dourthe's earlier miss meant they were forced to kick for position in their attempt to land the full five points.

They came close as England were temporarily reduced to 13 men with the absence of Shaw and Healey, but a series of bone-crunching tackles ensured England clung on for a famous victory.


France team:

R Dourthe (Dax); E Ntamack (Toulouse), D Venditti (Brive), T Lombard (Stade Francais), C Dominici (Stade Francais); T Castaignede (Castres), F Galthie (Colomiers); C Califano (Toulouse), M Dal Maso (Colomiers), F Tournaire (Toulouse), L Matiu (Biarritz), O Brouzet (Begles-Bordeaux), A Benazzi (Agen), O Magne (Montferrand), F Pelous (Toulouse, capt). Replacements: F Desbrosse (Toulouse), S Glas (Bourgoin), C Laussucq (Stade Francais), T Lievremont (Perpignan), S Betsen (Biarritz), P De Villiers (Stade Francaise), R Ibanez (Perpignan).

England team: M Perry (Bath), A Healey (Leicester), M Tindall (Bath), M Catt (Bath), B Cohen (Northampton), J Wilkinson (Newcastle), M Dawson (Northampton, capt); J Leonard (Harlequins), P Greening (Sale), P Vickery (Gloucester)/D Garforth (Leicester), G Archer (Bristol), S Shaw (Wasps), R Hill (Saracens), N Back (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps). Replacements: I Balshaw (Bath), A King (Wasps), A Gomarsall (Bedford), M Corry (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), T Woodman (Gloucester), N McCarthy (Gloucester).

Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia).

Touch judges: Jonathan Kaplan and Mark Lawrence (both South Africa).

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