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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 09:03 GMT
Six Nations gets grand finale
England and France will play on 27 March
England and France will play on 27 March
England will meet France in Paris in the final match of the 2004 Six Nations.

The move will ensure that Europe's 'Big Two' are made to wait to discover their championship fate.

Though widely expected, it means other unions will have to face the top two teams earlier in the tournament than they might have liked.

Chairman of the Six Nations Committee, Jacques Laurans, said: "In planning the fixture schedule for 2004, our aim has been to build on the success of this year's Tournament, which was the most widely-viewed of recent times.

"The 2004 Championship promises even greater interest, coming as it does hard on the heels of the Rugby World Cup.

"I suspect there may be a score or two to settle by the time the Six Nations comes along."

England played France in the opening game of the 2002 championship, prompting fears that the tournament would be over before it had begun.

It has been judged by most commentators to have been a great success
Six Nations chief John Feehan on the seven week format
Those were allayed, however, when Ireland defeated France to set up a final match Grand Slam decider against England in Dublin.

Next season will culminate in a 'Super Saturday' on 27 March, when all six teams will be in action.

England will face France in the final game of the day, scheduled to kick-off at 2000 GMT.

Six Nations chief executive, John Feehan, also announced that the current seven week format of the competition would continue.

"It has been judged by most commentators to have been a great success," he said.

"Designed to replicate the concentrated playing period of a Rugby World Cup, its effect has been to give the Six Nations an added sense of momentum and excitement."

2004 Six Nations fixtures
All times GMT

Sat 14 Feb
France v Ireland (1400)
Wales v Scotland (1600)

Sun 15 Feb
Italy v England (1500)

Sat 21 Feb
France v Italy (1400)
Scotland v England (1730)

Sun 22 Feb
Ireland v Wales (1500)

Sat 6 March
Italy v Scotland (1330)
England v Ireland (1600)

Sun 7 March
Wales v France (1500)

Sat 20 March
Ireland v Italy (1330)
England v Wales (1600)

Sun 21 March
Scotland v France (1500)

Sat 27 March
Wales v Italy (1400)
Ireland v Scotland (1600) France v England (2000)

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