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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007, 18:39 GMT
How the Six Nations was decided

Italy 24-51 Ireland France 46-19 Scotland Wales 27-18 England


By Charlie Henderson

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    "France were just about the best team after one minute of madness for Irish rugby."
    Jonathan Davies, BBC Sport TV pundit

    RBS Six Nations final standings:
    1. France 8 pts (+69)
    2. Ireland 8 pts (+65)
    3. England 6 pts (+4)
    4. Italy 4 pts (-53)
    5. Wales 2 pts (-27)
    6. Scotland 2pts (-58)

    "It is a great feeling. It is well deserved for the team and after a bad game last weekend to England we reacted well against Scotland. We knew from the start of the competition it would be tough between the Irish and us. It was emotional for all of us and we need to use this type of game to progress."
    Raphael Ibanez, France captain

  • That means France win the RBS Six Nations trophy. Scotland end up with the Wooden Spoon. The French team, scrubbed up in black tie, receive the trophy in an empty Stade de France.

    "The Welsh forwards were immense and laid the platform for James Hook. A fantastic result and the back-row totally outplayed England."
    Jonathan Davies, BBC Sport TV pundit in Cardiff

    "England are so frustrating to watch and they got on my nerves. One to eight, who showed up? They were appalling. Brian Ashton will be pulling out what little hair he has."
    Jeremy Guscott, BBC Sport TV pundit in Cardiff

    1918: FULL-TIME Wales 27-18 England
    A penalty for Wales and aptly James Hook has the last touch, hammering the ball into touch for a deserved win - and their first of the campaign.

    1917: Shane Geraghty is half through but scragged. There is no way though for England after 12 phases. Make that 13. Unlucky for some, hey.

    1916: A crescendo of noise as the home support know the 80 minutes are up.

    1915: Seconds left on the clock.

    1914: England are going through the motions with ball in hand. Pedestrian and predictable.

    1913: A penalty for England as Mike Phillips holds on to the ball after being tackled. No chance of points though. England are in their own half. No change there then.

    1912: England have spent almost 73% of the second half camped in their own half of the pitch.

    1910: After a lull early in the second half, James Hook is right back in the zone. He almost escapes the attentions of the English midfield. Only almost. England just hold firm.

    1908: That is 22 points for James Hook, which equals the Welsh record in a match against England. He shares the honour with Neil Jenkins who racked up his haul in 1999.

    1907: PENALTY Wales 27-18 England
    James Hook lines up a penalty from 42 metres. It sails over and that gives Wales a two-score cushion.

    1906: With men outside, substitute Shaun Perry fumbles and knocks on. Mistakes are coming up with alarming frequency in England's game and they are proving costly.

    1905: There are 10 minutes left on the clock and a chance for England to counter-attack. Mark Cueto and Shane Geraghty are both well marshalled and stopped in their tracks on halfway.

    1904: 'Bread of Heaven, feed me now and ever more...' The home support have found their voice and there is a real sense this is their game.

    1903: A wonderful arcing break from James Hook from inside his own 22. He accelerates round Magnus Lund and he has options either side, but slips at the vital moment as Jason Robinson lines up the tackle.

    1902: DROP-GOAL Wales 24-18 England
    Ian Gough claims the ball and they drive forward. And again. And again. There's no way through but James Hook picks up a Dwayne Peel pass off his boots and clips it over for another three points.

    1901: Mark Cueto slides across to gather a Martyn Williams grubber to the corner and takes it into touch for an attacking Wales line-out. The hosts are on the up, as is their support.

    1859: England are building only for Toby Flood to fizz a fierce pass at club team-mate Mathew Tait. Attack is turned into defence in that instance as they have to turn and chase back a kick through. From a Welsh perspective, defence becomes attack.

    1858: PENALTY Wales 21-18 England
    Wales finally get the points their possession and territory deserves with James Hook hoisting a simple kick up and over the bar and between the posts.

    1857: A show-and-go from Alun Wyn Jones under the posts - not bad for a lock. Wales get a penalty in front of the posts for a tackle off the ball by substitute Louis Deacon.

    1855: England have tasted victory just four times on the road since the last World Cup.

    1854: England debutant James Haskell is on the charge from a free-kick on halfway, but the men in white cannot sustain any possession or pressure at the moment.

    1852: Lock Alun Wyn Jones is tackled in the air at the line-out to hand Wales the opportunity to get those points. James Hook's attempt comes off the right post and George Chuter catches the rebound.

    1850: It does not look as if they will. England are now in Welsh territory.

    1849: This is a frustrating spell for Wales supporters, who will be desperate to at least come out of it with some points.

    1848: Poor Welsh handling and a try goes begging. Kevin Morgan comes into the line and commits Mark Cueto before slipping a pass out of the tackle to Mark Jones, but it falls behind the winger.

    1846: Wales keep probing. England coach Brian Ashton is spinning his glasses case nervously round and round in his hands.

    1844: That James Hook miss-pass to Shane Williams again and this time the Wales winger is almost through, but prop Tim Payne stretches every last sinew in his frame and holds on to his shorts. Williams coughs up the ball.

    1842: Wales win an attacking line-out. From forwards to backs and a miss-pass from James Hook frees Shane Williams. Yet again the little fella goes it alone and overlooks men outside and is soon tackled.

    1839: Wales are looking good but a breakdown in communication between old heads Gareth Thomas and Martyn Williams in midfield and a call of obstruction goes against them.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE: Just another 57 points needed for England if they want that title!

    1837: PENALTY Wales 18-18 England
    The match is all square after 45 minutes as Toby Flood drills a penalty between the sticks.

    1836: Wales again stand firm, but only just. David Strettle shimmies this way and that after pouncing on a Mark Cueto up-and-under. Magnus Lund takes England even closer to a try but is tackled short of the line.

    1835: Wales get a real shove on at a scrum on halfway, but England pick up and go. Wales repel the attack.

    1833: Mike Catt came out for the second half but he is going off straight away after tweaking his left hamstring early doors with a chip and chase. Shane Geraghty comes on.

    1832: The action resumes with James Hook putting boot to ball on halfway.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE: It is safe for France to take the champagne out of the ice buckets and pop the corks - if they haven't already. But there are still things going on in Cardiff that will affect the table, not least at the bottom of the table where Wales need to win to avoid the Wooden Spoon.

    1819: HALF-TIME Wales 18-15 England
    For the third match of the day there is a try for the away team just before the break and things are set up nicely for the last 40 minutes of the tournament.

    1818: TRY Wales 18-15 England
    What a ding-dong, see-saw game. Harry Ellis darts away from the fringes holding off two players in the process. Having arrowed into the heart of Wales territory he shows great vision to turn back towards the left wing where Jason Robinson is free to go over in the corner. Just as with James Hook moments earlier, it is a difficult chance for Toby Flood with the boot and his effort goes across the posts.

    1817: PENALTY Wales 18-10 England
    Wales check the England comeback with a wonderful kick from James Hook. Right-footed on the right-hand side of the pitch he arcs the effort through the sticks.

    1815: A chance for Wales to re-assert themselves after hands on the deck from Magnus Lund gives James Hook a penalty opportunity.

    1814: England win Welsh line-out ball and things are turning here. Just moments ago it was all Wales. Although there could be a problem for England out there. Mercurial leader Mike Catt is hobbling a bit after hammering a kick upfield. He had doubts over a hamstring injury coming into the match.

    1813: DROP-GOAL Wales 15-10 England
    With a penalty coming for Wales slowing the ball down, England opt for a drop-goal with Toby Flood doing the honours.

    1812: England win clean ball through Martin Corry and there is the platform for another dart at the Wales line.

    1811: Wales hooker Matthew Rees is warned over a high tackle on Harry Ellis. Toby Flood fires another kick into the opposition 22.

    1809: TRY & CONVERSION Wales 15-7 England
    A magnificent break from Mike Catt. The veteran skipper slaloms through the Welsh defence on halfway but has no other options but to chip ahead as those old legs will not get him all the way to the line. A lucky bounce in the dead-ball area and Harry Ellis pounces on the loose ball. Toby Flood adds the two points. Are England back in this?

    1807: More scrappy line-out ball for England who clear the lines but are still inside their own half. Mike Catt urges on his troops with a violent clap of his hands. He has a face like thunder, red with anger.

    1806: James Hook lines a kick, top over tail, to the corner flag deep in England territory.

    1805: Possession is all Wales.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE It is fair to assume England have no chance of winning the RBS Six Nations title. That 57-point margin needed at the start of the match is up to 72 now. But Wales are well on course to edge out Scotland for the wooden spoon.

    1802: David Strettle and Mike Catt snipe forward, but the Welsh defence is suffocating

    1801: England inch forward out of their own 22.

    1800: Ryan Jones gathers a high ball inside the England half and steps round two would-be tacklers before releasing Shane Williams. The winger again ignores plentiful options outside and is tackled by Mathew Tait. James Hook pushes a drop-goal attempt wide.

    1758: A miss pass from James Hook opens up space for Wales. They look as if they have extra man at the moment.

    1756: "I don't mind a highly-charged game as long as we stay within the constraints of the law," says referee Alain Rolland to the two captains. He warns that "trouble" will follow for any miscreants. That means a yellow card and 10 minutes in the sin-bin. The catalyst to all that? Martin Corry taking exception to Wales wanting the ball quickly.

    1755: A tap tackle on England winger Jason Robinson and he stumbles and falls short of the line over on the right of the pitch. Harry Ellis snipes for the line but holds on too long and it is a penalty to Wales.

    1754: Scrappy line-out ball from England and that is no way to launch a platform. But a knock-on from Wales mean they can look to build from a scrum.

    1752: More action. A little skirmish between the forwards and England get a penalty which Toby Flood fires down the line.

    1751: More stats. Wales have had 75% of possession. They must be on 99% in the territory stakes.

    1750: Wales are bossing this big time and return the re-start with interest as Mark Jones flies down the left wing. England have made eight errors so far according to the stats. Wales have made none. No need for the facts and figures to highlight the fact the hosts are playing perfect rugby at the minute.

    1748: TRY Wales 15-0 England
    Gethin Jenkins goes close before Chris Horsman powers over from one yard out for his first try for Wales. Come the end of night that could be as much as 21 or 31 yards as he regales people with the yarn of his score. James Hook sees his conversion attempt come back off the right upright.

    1747: Gareth Thomas leads a counter-attack which is taken on by Shane Williams. he glides into the England 22 before being tackled.

    1746: A line-out to England who win the ball untidily and Harry Ellis hoists a box-kick down the line.

    1745: PENALTY Wales 10-0 England
    The blue-booted James Hook makes no mistake from 44 metres.

    1744: England prop Tim Payne infringes and the blue-booted James Hook steps up for a long-range penalty attempt.

    1743: A knock-on in midfield from Toby Flood and a change for England. Joe Worsley took an early bang and is replaced by Magnus Lund. The all-Wasps back-row did not last long. It was the first time England had fielded a one-club back-row unit in a Test since the Second World War.

    1741: Wales are keeping the ball alive wonderfully well but then Shane Williams gets a bit of white line fever, the selfish little bleeder. Two men outside him, but the winger goes alone, slips and the chance is gone.

    1740: Toby Flood gets a measure of recompense on James Hook with a scragging tackle in midfield, but it does little to stem the red tide.

    1738: Wales are fired up big time. A high ball is held by new England full-back Mark Cueto, but Gareth Thomas and Shane Williams are through on him in no time at all.

    1736: TRY Wales 7-0 England
    What a start for Wales. A line of red shirts comes flooding forward to put pressure on England number 10 Toby Flood and his clearing kick is charged down and touched down by James Hook. He adds the conversion with a clean strike.

    1735: A crackerjack of a sniping break from Dwayne Peel who shows a pair of clean heels to his opposite number Harry Ellis.

    1734: England start the final match of the 2007 Six Nations.

    "In Oakville, Canada listening on Radio Wales. Go Wales. Goose bumps listening to anthem."
    Neil (Zeus) Jones, Oakville, Canada

    1731: Wonderful anthems get everyone in the mood.

    Wales: Morgan; Mark Jones, Shanklin, G Thomas, Shane Williams; Hook, Peel; G Jenkins, M Rees, Horsman, Gough; A-W Jones, Popham; M Williams, Ryan Jones
    Replacements: T R Thomas, Duncan Jones, A Jones, Cockbain, J Thomas, Phillips, Sweeney.
    England: Cueto; Strettle, Tait, Catt, Robinson; Flood, Ellis, Payne, Chuter, White, Corry, Palmer, Haskell, Rees, Worsley
    Replacements: Mears, Turner, Deacon, Lund, Perry, Geraghty, Noon.

    1729: And here come Wales, to a rousing Welsh reception.

    1728: England emerge at the Millennium Stadium, where the roof is closed.

    "It should be a really open expansive game."
    Jeremy Guscott, BBC Sport TV pundit in Cardiff

    1725: So then, two down, one to go. Can England get the points they need to usurp France in pole position in the table? Can they notch a rare win on the road? Can Wales get a first win of the campaign? If they do they would avoid the wooden spoon and hand it to Scotland.

    "I cannot help but feel that had the games been played simultaneously the result might have been different."
    John Irwin

    "They did not think that decision was going to go in France's favour. It was a pretty awful moment when France were awarded the try and it is a pretty abysmal mood here."
    BBC Sport's Craig Doyle on the reaction in the Ireland hotel in Rome

    THE BIGGER PICTURE England need to beat Wales by 57 points to deny France the Six Nations. The French do not think it will happen. It is hugs, smiles and thumbs up all round for Bernard Laporte and his team.

    1713: FULL-TIME France 46-19 Scotland
    What a finale - and there is still more to come. And what a finish for France coach Bernard Laporte in his final Six Nations match in charge. Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best' rings round the stadium on the PA.

    1712: TRY & CONVERSION France 46-19 Scotland
    Elvis Vermeulen has won this Championship for France. Surely Elvis has won the Six Nations unless England can produce something remarkable. Lionel Beauxis adds the conversion.

    1711: France twist over the line and it is going to the TMO - who is Irish! Referee Craig Joubert believes a try has been scored and has asked for any reason why he cannot award the try. Will the Irishman come up with something?

    1710: France are held up inches short.

    1709: Time is up and if the ball goes dead Ireland are champions-elect, depending on what England can do!

    1708: They are five metres out with time running down on the clock. Half-a-minute.

    1707: France are rumbling forward.

    1706: France have a penalty but they cannot go for goal. It is the line-out option for them and they are into the Scotland 22.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE Ireland are back on top of the table and France need to score a try in the final three minutes to land the Championship.

    1704: TRY France 39-19 Scotland
    Chris Paterson floats a wonderful pass out to the left wing and prop Euan Murray. He wraps his big mitts round the ball and brushes off Pierre Mignoni before crashing over. He is treated for cramp after running in for his first international score. Paterson's conversion hits the upright.

    1703: The Scots win a scrappy line-out on the French 22 and they are going forward again. Allister Hogg is through, he finds support but Serge Betsen envelops man, ball and danger under his posts.

    1702: Scotland pressure the French scrum and it is a rushed clearance kick from Lionel Beauxis.

    1701: A 50th cap for French substitute Damien Traille who replaces Clement Poitrenaud.

    1700: Here go the blue shirts. Rumbling forward. And then backwards. And back some more. Then forwards again. Whoops. A knock-on and a turnover for France.

    1659: Out of nowhere Chris Cusiter injects some Scottish pizzazz into things with a burst. Scotland are turning things up and they win a penalty. The Irish will want them to go for the sticks, but Scots want to win this match so they go for the touchfinder and an attacking line-out.

    1658: Scotland are back up to 15 men with Sean Lamont's 10 minutes up. Wonder if Craig Joubert will be saying "sorry mate" to him come the final whistle?

    1657: "Sorry mate," says referee Craig Joubert as he gets in the way of winger Nikki Walker. Scotland coach Alan Tait just blinked.

    1655: Lionel Beauxis cracks a long-distance penalty attempt on to the upright.

    1654: Eager endeavour from Scotland as they get up to halfway, but they are let down by their basic skills and cough up the pill.

    1652: Scotland ring the changes in the front row with Dougie Hall and Allan Jacobsen on. Chris Cusiter replaces Rory Lawson at nine.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE France are top of the RBS Six Nations table.

    1649: TRY France 39-14 Scotland
    A line-out and irresistible drive ends with Olivier Milloud crossing for his first try in French colours. Lionel Beauxis adds the two points which take France top of the table above Ireland on points difference.

    1647: SIN-BIN Scotland
    It goes from bad to worse for Scotland... and even worse for the referee Craig Joubert who has a Graham Poll moment. Rory Lamont bodychecks David Marty but his brother Sean Lamont is in the sin-bin. Sean is wearing bright orange gloves and even bright bleach-blond hair. Rory has no gloves and dark hair.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE France need another six points... so long as Scotland do not score again.

    1645: TRY France 32-14 Scotland
    Scotland could not hold on for 24 seconds. Midfield turnover is returned with interest and the backs bear down their left flank before Cedric Heymans crosses. Coach Bernard Laporte is punching the air as if willing on a horse at the races. Lionel Beauxis cannot add two more points.

    1644: And now on the right. How long can Scotland hold on like this. Hopefully another 24 or so minutes of time on the clock if you're Irish.

    1643: Scotland clear but not for long. A poor kick is returned and they are stretched on the left.

    1642: Lionel Beauxis kicks to touch and it will be an attacking line-out for France.

    1641: France come flying forward and Scotland are stretched. Chris Paterson gives away a penalty after hanging on too long to the marauding Pieter de Villiers on the ground.

    1640: A shuffle in the backs for Scotland as Dan Parks goes off. Rory Lamont is on at full-back and Chris Paterson moves into the number 10 slot vacated by Parks.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE France need another 11 points... so long as Scotland do not score again.

    1638: TRY & CONVERSION France 27-14 Scotland
    This time France do get across the line. They have men over on the left and David Marty juggles the ball before sliding over. A neat conversion from the touchline for Lionel Beauxis.

    1637: Yannick Jauzion goes close to the line. And David Marty. And Jauzion again. Jerome Thion holds on when he should have passed and the lock is tackled short of the line on the right. Desperate defence from Scotland.

    1636: Imanol Harinordoquy soars in the line-out and earns good ball for the French.

    1635: A turn of foot from prop Pieter de Villiers in midfield gets the home crowd interested. His rumbling turn lasts about three metres, but it is a turn all the same.

    1633: Scott Murray, the only survivor in the team from the last time Scotland won in Paris in 1999, is off injured. James Hamilton replaces him in the second row.

    1632: That has given Scotland some impetus, but quick ball down the line is too quick for the juggling Chris Paterson coming in on the right wing.

    1631: Poor play from France centre David Marty. He wills a ball into touch, but when that last revolution over the white line fails to materialise he fumbles the ball under pressure from Rory Lawson.

    1628: It is all quite static from France as they attempt to get themselves going.

    1626: Sean Lamont slips a pass away to free Chris Paterson, but the full-back's run to the line is halted by the referee's whistle for a forward pass. South African Craig Joubert was on the spot there.

    1625: Up and running again and, as in the first half, Scotland start well.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE That try leaves France needing 18 un-answered points in the second half to climb above Ireland in the Six Nations table. If Les Bleus do not win, England need a 53-point winning margin against Wales later on in the day.

    "Great win for Ireland on a great Paddy's Day - although it's early here! Scotland need to restore some pride, and this is the ideal match to do it.
    James Tully, Vancouver, Canada

    "Working as a nurse in outback Queensland. Well done Ireland. Eight tries, we couldn't have asked for anything more. Hopefully the Scots can do us a big favour.
    Gavin Mcaleer, formerly of Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland

    1615: HALF-TIME France 20-14 Scotland
    Just as in Rome a try for the visitors on the whistle for the break.

    1614: TRY France 20-14 Scotland
    Sean Lamont is a quick thinker. Scotland get a penalty on the French 22 and the big winger's quick tap-and-go ends with him sliding over next to the posts. White-shirted players in close attendance to the bleach-blonde flyer could not touch him and Chris Paterson converts.

    1613: Pierre Mignoni is a livewire at scrum-half. He breaks but his team-mates are not up to speed.

    1612: Oh dear! The Scotland re-start from Dan Parks goes straight out. A scrum to France on the centre spot.

    1611: PENALTY 20-7 Scotland
    Lionel Beauxis makes no mistake from almost in front of the posts.

    1610: France steal Scotland ball at the line-out and this is a real chance for more home points. They wanted seven but they will get three after an infringement from Simon Taylor close to the Scotland line.

    1609: Do white boots make a player look as if he is running faster or is Vincent Clerc really that fast?

    1607: TRY France 17-7 Scotland
    A terrific try. While Yannick Jauzion gets his name on the scoresheet, all credit to the touchdown for Pierre Mignoni. A jink o the fringes, and another before a chip over the last line, the scrum-half gathers the bouncing ball and releases Jauzion for a simple finish under the posts, although the TMO is called on to give it all the once over. After two minutes the thumbs up are given and Lionel Beauxis slots the extras. France are chipping away at that 24-point mark that Ireland set them.

    1604: Scotland lose the ball forward and are now going backwards as France come forward.

    1601: Clement Poitrenaud has recovered well from being at fault for that Scotland try. He is lively in attack and climbs high to claim a Garryowen there.

    1559: TRY France 10-7 Scotland
    Serge Betsen goes close before Imanol Harinordoquy squirms over underneath a pile of bodies. Lionel Beauxis converts and France are on top for the first time.

    1558: Suddenly a burst of action runs through the game like a surge of electricity. Vincent Clerc skins Nathan Hines in midfield and France are in behind their visitors for the first time. Only the very best defence holds back Clement Poitrenaud close to the line.

    1557: The action is interesting, but not riveting as France work through the phases and gain ground.

    1556: Scotland coach Alan Tait is transfixed by the action and fails to blink when the camera stays focused on him for the best part of 20 seconds.

    "A very encouraging start for Scotland. They are taking on France tight and the French do not look like they want to be there. They do not have many options apart from using Yannick Jauzion."
    Gregor Townsend, BBC Sport TV pundit in Paris

    1552: Blimey, a quarter of this match has gone already. Time is glying by. It might be glying, it might not, but what is for sure is that it is flying by.

    1550: France 3-7 Scotland
    Lionel Beauxis is on target this time stroking nicely through the ball right-footed.

    1549: The French forwards ramp up the pressure in the scrum and Scotland number eight Johnnie Beattie gives away a penalty. He slips his binding and comes round the side to upset France's release of the ball.

    1546: France are belatedly slipping through the gears, or at least it looks as if they have found out how to get out of first! They are motoring forward but the Scottish defence is made of stern stuff.

    1544: That fumble costs France as Serge Betsen's pass to Imanol Harinordoquy goes down and Scotland have the chance to relieve pressure as a French brass band gives it some ooomph in the crowd.

    1543: Sustained possession from France despite a fumble from Lionel Beauxis. He looks nervy at 10.

    1542: No points and no 'early settle' for France. Lionel Beauxis, who is in for the injured David Skrela, pushes his effort wide.

    1541: Ronan O'Gara missed a lot of kicks today and France will be hoping Lionel Beauxis has his kicking boots on as Raphael Ibanez opts for a kick at goal and an early settling three points.

    1540: France have finally found out what the ball feels like. Up until now they have spent their time looking at it.

    1538: TRY France 0-7 Scotland
    And even deeper. Chris Paterson kicks high across the pitch to the left corner and returnee Nikki Walker claims the ball above Clement Poitrenaud to touch down. The French full-back took his eye off the ball and it bounced off his bonce into Walker's grateful grasp. Paterson adds the extras. What a start. Irishmen everywhere are charging their glasses of Guinness. Is it premature? For sure, but it's fun.

    1537: Deep in their own half.

    1536: Oh no they don't. Raphael Ibanez has been spotted blocking and a penalty for Scotland means it is back into their own half for the French.

    1535: French fans finally get a chance to clear their throats. Scotland win the ball at a lineout off their own throw but the tap down is messy and France snaffle possession and break.

    1534: A fine start from Scotland and France have barely touched the ball. And a fine start for Ireland as Scotland get an early penalty. Easily kickable, but Chris Paterson, who has slotted his last 20 efforts, pushes this one just wide of the right stick.

    1531: We are under way in Paris with hosts France wearing their changed kit of all white.

    1529: A minute's silence at the Stade de France for past SRU president Adam Robson and now it is on with action.

    Teams: A late change for Scotland with Allister Hogg replacing the ill Kelly Brown.
    France: Poitrenaud, Clerc, Marty, Jauzion, Heymans, Beauxis, Mignoni, Milloud, Ibanez, De Villiers, Nallet, Thion, Betsen, Bonnaire, Harinordoquy.
    Replacements: Mas, Bruno, Pape, Vermeulen, Elissalde, Traille, Dominici.
    Scotland: Paterson, S. Lamont, Dewey, Henderson, Walker, Parks, Lawson, Kerr, Ford, E. Murray, Hines, S. Murray, Taylor, Brown, Beattie.
    Replacements: Hall, Jacobsen, Hamilton, Hogg, Cusiter, Di Rollo, R. Lamont.

    1527: Just enough time to catch your breath and it is over to Paris where the anthems are being played out.

    "Scotland will set out to win the game and not just stop France. France will want to run the ball and score tries and Scotland have to do the same."
    Andy Nicol, BBC Sport TV pundit in Paris

    "Ireland have put themselves in a position to win it. They will have to sit down with a good pint of Guinness and try to enjoy watching the France v Scotland game."
    Keith Wood, BBC Sport TV pundit in Rome

    THE BIGGER PICTURE France need to beat Scotland by 24 points to claim the Championship ahead of Ireland and leave England with an almighty task to leapfrog them to the top of the table in the third and final game of the day against Wales.

    1520: TRY & CONVERSION Italy 24-51 Ireland
    What a blow for Ireland. "Jonathan, you may award the try," comes the call from the TMO. Roland De Marigny is adjudged to have got the ball over for the score. Andrea Scanavacca cracks over the conversion from tight to the touchline. A poor end to the campaign for Ireland, but will they end it with the Championship. We will have to wait and see.

    1519: Still we go with a penalty to Italy and this is not the finish Ireland wanted. Italy take the ball down the line right to left. Tight, short passes and Roland De Marigny sneaks over. Has he scored? The TMO will tell us.

    1518: This is going on for an age. A trip from Andrea Scanavacca on Ronan O'Gara and Shane Horgan picks and goes and they are up to halfway. And another penalty which Denis Leamy takes forward.

    1517: They are frantically trying to keep the ball in hand on what is the last play of the game.

    1516: Will there be time for one more Irish score?

    1515: Gordon D'Arcy is named RBS Six Nations Man of the Match. Good call. He has been excellent.

    1512: TRY Italy 17-51 Ireland
    Denis Hickie was on the receiving end under that high ball on his own line, but his dancing feet are in action at the right end of the pitch to reclaim that 34-point advantage. He ignores inside support and races away for Ireland's eighth try.

    1510: TRY Italy 17-46 Ireland
    It had been coming. After no reward with ball in hand Italy turn to the boot and Andrea Scanavacca hangs a crossfield kick over to the right corner. Denis Hickie has no chance defending something like that when he lines up underneath it with lock Marco Bortolami. A swivel and score from the Italian skipper. Scanavacca's conversion is close but no cigar.

    1509: Kaine Robertson slips at the vital moment in midfield when Italy turn to their backs after their forwards set the platform deep in Irish territory.

    1507: Words for Marco Bortolami and Denis Leamy after a tete-a-tete before Italy resume their search for a consolation score.

    1506: A quick tap-and-go and here's a chance for Italy. A grubber to the corner but Peter Stringer gets to the ball a smidgeon ahead of Kaine Robertson.

    1505: A burst of activity from the hosts in midfield with 10 minutes left on the clock.

    1502: This is like two heavyweights grappling with each other after a brutal couple of rounds in the ring. Everything has slowed down after that quick rat-a-tat-tat of Irish try scoring.

    1501: Pick and drive.

    1500: Italy look to create something after claiming a line-out on the 22. They are keeping it close. Pick and drive.

    1458: Italy are at least keeping the ball which means they are keeping Ireland at bay... for the time being.

    1456: Back to the action and Italy have not given up hope and are pushing for something, anything. It is like watching a salmon swim upstream at the moment against this torrent of Irish ambition.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE That flurry of points has swung things Ireland's way. As it stands France would have to beat Scotland by more than 30 points in the second match of the day. That starts at 1530 GMT with Wales against England to come at 1730 GMT.

    1452: Brian O'Driscoll goes off for Ireland after turning his ankle in that break. Andrew Trimble is on in the captain's place.

    1451: TRY & CONVERSION Italy 12-46 Ireland
    It does more than relieve pressure. A length-of-the-field move is rounded of by Ronan O'Gara who adds the extras.

    1450: Italian hope of a score is punctured as Ireland break from near their own line after a burst of pace from Gordon D'Arcy relieves pressure.

    1447: Ronan O'Gara's now seventh in the all-time international scoring list having leapfrogged Gavin Hastings and everything's going well for Ireland. They are even taking Pakistani wickets in the Cricket World Cup.

    "The floodgates have opened and Ireland are cutting loose. The Italians are downbeat and their bench is not up to as much they'd like."
    Keith Wood, BBC Sport TV pundit

    1446: TRY Italy 12-37 Ireland
    A team try there and Italy are going backwards and chasing shadows. The Irish forwards power forward from the line-out down the left and then the ball is slung out to the backs with Denis Hickie scooting over in acres of space. Ronan O'Gara gets the two points this time. This score is going north incredibly quickly. Italy are going south even quicker.

    1444: Italy full-back Roland De Marigny does little to avoid the prone Brian O'Driscoll and lands his size 11 squarely on the Irishman's chest. It is a penalty for Ireland and Ronan O'Gara's touchfinder gives them the scent of more points.

    1443: TRY Italy 12-32 Ireland Better hands from Brian O'Driscoll with a give, spin and take in midfield before off-loading to Denis Hickie who takes the angle to the right corner flag before finding Shane Horgan. Ronan O'Gara cannot hit the target.

    1441: A chip over the top and here's a chance for a fifth Irish try, but Brian O'Driscoll cannot hold on to the bobbling ball under pressure from Italian defenders just short of the line.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE A complaint from Conor Gillis about the fact that points difference doesn't matter as Ireland will be top after this match as they will have the two points for victory in the bag. Point taken Conor, but it is all about points difference today if we assume France are going to win. No offence to Scots, but we are assuming that. With the points mounting in Rome this is all good stuff for Ireland.

    1437: TRY & CONVERSION Italy 12-27 Ireland
    A pop pass from Ronan O'Gara back against play and Girvan Dempsey comes steaming through like an express train to score under the posts. O'Gara took a knock in the build-up but is back on his feet to slot the conversion.

    1436: Having been on the back foot Ireland are squarely on the front foot now.

    1435: After a delay for treatment play resumes and a try is on for Italy as Sergio Parisse picks up and goes on the blindside, but his pass to Kaine Robertson is intercepted and Denis Hickie is off and flying to relieve the pressure.

    1432: Italy have started well, but obstruction in midfield wastes their advantage. They go back for a scrum inside the Irish 22.

    1431: Ireland win some line-out ball, but it was not straight so it is Italian ball at the scrum. Maybe referee Jonathan Kaplan did watch the replay of that third try at half-time and is out to level things up. It did not look all that squiggly.

    1429: Italy stand-off Ramiro Pez has sizzled himself right out of town. Andrea Scanavacca is on in his place and gets things going.

    1428: Italy and Ireland are back out. How many points do the Irish need? Keith Wood is hoping they start flying after "10 hard minutes".

    THE BIGGER PICTURE: This eight-point margin is enough to put Ireland top of the table, but they need a bucket-load more points to put anything resembling pressure on France.

    "We are missing the leadership of Paul O'Connell in the pack."
    Ronan, Canada

    "I am a doctor on nights in A&E in Melbourne. Thank God it is quiet. Come on Ireland!"
    Graeme Harrington, Melbourne, Australia

    "If referee Jonathan Kaplan looks at that last try he'll see he made a bad mistake. The crowd are now aggressively upset by that and you wonder how Italy will respond. Ireland have to be happy with the score as they haven't played so well, but they need more structure."
    Keith Wood, BBC Sport TV pundit

    1418: HALF-TIME Italy 12-20 Ireland
    That is the last of the first-half action in Rome.

    1417: TRY Italy 12-20 Ireland
    Gordon D'Arcy is in under the posts after taking a blatant forward pass from Denis Hickie. It was nice play from Ireland, with Hickie coming through on Ronan O'Gara's inside shoulder, and a fine finish from the centre, but it should not have stood. Ronan O'Gara adds to the injustice with the conversion.

    1415: They really should do that in football. Referee Jonathan Kaplan gives Ireland an extra 10 yards at a penalty after Italian shenanigans. With three minutes to the break Ireland are urgently trying to get on the front foot.

    1413: The Irish are pinged for obstruction after disengaging at a maul, but Ramiro Pez cannot make them pay with a penalty attempt from halfway which is pulled narrowly wide.

    1411: That's messier than a mosh pit at a Nirvana concert in the early nineties. Without Paul O'Connell in the team Ireland are struggling at the line-out and Italy relieve pressure with a free-kick after disrupting the Irish jumpers. A wasted opportunity for the visitors.

    1409: Shoddy Irish passing with a few going through on the bounce, but it does not slow their progress or probing play. Ronan O'Gara finds touch with a penalty and it is an Ireland line-out in the Italian 22.

    1407: Wing Shane Horgan's on the gallop. He's a brute of a man at full pelt. Ireland are awarded a scrum in Italian territory at the breakdown on the 22.

    1406: Open and entertaining stuff this. Ireland have their tails up after being pegged back.

    1404: DROP-GOAL Italy 12-13 Ireland
    Ramiro Pez can blow hot and cold, but he is sizzling today. More slow Italian ball, but more points for the hosts as the Argentine-born number 10 goes back in the pocket and swings that left boot with aplomb.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE: That 'as it stands' lead did not last long and now it is all level on points difference at the top of the table between France and Ireland.

    1401: Italy have responded well from both tries and they cut the lead with a Ramiro Pez penalty having gone straight up the other end.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE: That score means Ireland are top of the table as it stands. They need to win by five points or more to stay there.

    1357: TRY Italy 6-13 Ireland
    A length of the field try and there's no doubt Ireland are going for this in the hope of putting pressure on France later in the day. A turnover at the scrum and David Wallace is away. Support from Simon Easterby and Shane Horgan down the right touchline and Easterby is available for the return pass and score. Ronan O'Gara cannot add the extras.

    1355: Italy's Alessandro Troncon comes off second best in a tackle with David Wallace. A magic sponge later and he's back on his feet, although there's no hint of the airy-fairy Italian footballer about this hardened campaigner.

    1353: Italy are responding well to going behind again.

    1350: TRY Italy 6-8 Ireland
    A try made in Leinster. Gordon D'Arcy slips a tackle and releases Denis Hickie who finds Brian O'Driscoll who releases Girvan Dempsey who goes over in the left corner. Munster man Ronan O'Gara fails to land the conversion from tight to the touchline.

    1348: PENALTY Italy 6-3 Ireland
    Ramiro Pez strides up and strokes over a penalty left-footed from 10 yards inside the Irish half.

    1347: Ireland win Italian ball at the line-out only for Simon Easterby to hold on to the ball in the tackle.

    1346: DROP-GOAL Italy 3-3 Ireland
    Italy keep probing but there's no way through so Ramiro Pez slips back into the slot for a drop-goal to tie things up after Ireland slow the ball down.

    1345: Italy step it up and Kaine Robertson is hot-stepping it on the wing jinking this way and that. A long miss pass from Sergio Parisse turns play to the left flank.

    1344: Sergio Parisse is keen for contact.

    1343: The Italians are up for this judging by the early hits. Alessandro Zanni and Ramiro Pez team up for a double hit on a green-shirted raider.

    1342: Those who have travelled to Rome are happy with the start as 'Fields of Athenry' gets an early airing.

    1340: PENALTY Italy 0-3 Ireland
    The opening points of the day with Ronan O'Gara, already the tournament's leading scorer, slotting a penalty to take his tally to 69 in a little over four matches. It curled in nicely from the right.

    1338: Good hands Ireland with David Wallace and Brian O'Driscoll to the fore before an absolutely thumping tackle on Girvan Dempsey by number eight Sergio Parisse on the Italian 22.

    1336: Italy were forced to make three changes before the match, and here comes a fourth. Flanker Maurizio Zaffiri is off for another Kiwi-cum-Italian in Josh Sole.

    1335: A chance for Kaine Robertson to stretch his legs on the Italian wing as he chases an Alessandro Troncon kick over the top. It trickles out before the New Zealand-born flyer can get on the end of it, with Denis Hickie in close attendance.

    1334: The Irish lose the first line-out of the day on their own throw. An easy take for Italy. Their second line-out is more than a bit on the wonky side, but South African referee Jonathan Kaplan doesn't seem to mind.

    1333: Ireland get the ball rolling on a big day of Six Nations rugby.

    Italy: De Marigny, Robertson, Galon, M. Bergamasco, Pratichetti, Pez, Troncon, Perugini, Festuccia, Nieto, Dellape, Bortolami, Zanni, Zaffiri, Parisse.
    Replacements: Ghiraldini, Staibano, Bernabo, Sole, Griffen,Scanavacca, Barbini.
    Ireland: Dempsey, Horgan, B. O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Hickie, O'Gara, Stringer, Horan, R. Best, Hayes, O'Callaghan, M. O'Driscoll, Easterby, D. Wallace, Leamy. Replacements: Flannery, S. Best, Hogan, N. Best, Reddan, P. Wallace, Trimble.

    1330: So that's what those blue balloons were for. A net ball of them is opened and they drift into the picture perfect blue sky as the bouncy Italian anthem is sung with equal gusto.

    1328: "Together standing tall, shoulder to shoulder..." 'Ireland's Call' is sung with hearty St Patrick's Day gusto. Did you know St Patrick was not actually born in Ireland?

    1327: Gloucester lock Marco Bortolami leads out the Italians. What was that about it being like a home match for the Irish? A huge roar erupts and blue firecrackers soar skywards.

    1325: There's the rattle of studs in the tunnel and here come the Irish who are looking for a first Championship since 1985.

    "The Italian pack will give our front five a rough time, but our backs will win the day."
    Mick (from County Down), Kentucky, USA

    "Can anyone help me find somewhere to watch in New Delhi? Sure, it's sunny but nowhere shows rugby. I'd even rather be in pub with all the Clapham 'Rahs' than not be able to watch it at all!"

    "Hunting for a bar in Penang to settle in and watch the games. Ireland for the Championship, but hope Scotland can give France a fright."
    Richard, Penang via text on 81111

    1320: It is 2220 local time in Perth and 1420 local time in Rome - 10 minutes to go until the start of the action.

    "Here in Perth we're still celebrating St. Patricks Day with a drink or six and waiting for the kick-off. Hopefully Ireland can win this one and the Championship."
    John, Perth

    1310: A band are going through their notes on the pitch with a breezy, brassy pomp and the players continue to go through their warm-up. Tackle bags, passing movements, exuberant jogging.... It is warm out there and at this rate these boys are going to be blowing by the time the match starts.

    "It will be a hard game. My tactics are simple. This is an opportunity to play a big team going for first position in the tournament and I hope my players play a big game and have a big fight."
    Pierre Berbizier, Italy coach

    "Italy will be fired up and have a chance of producing their best Six Nations in history. We've got to go out with the right head set and we have to get the job done. A slight disadvantage that France know what they'll have to do, but we can put pressure on them and that's just the way the stones were stacked."
    Eddie O'Sullivan, Ireland coach

    "I expect Ireland to win the whole thing, but they should be going for the Grand Slam. England have an outside chance and for them even to be there is a step up from where they were in the autumn. I don't know what to make of the French and they'll be second."
    Brian Moore, BBC Sport TV pundit

    1259: Scrum-halves past and present are plotting for Italy. Home coach Pierre Berbizier, who used to wear number nine for France, is in deep conversation with present Azzurri lynchpin Alessandro Troncon.

    "Ireland basically need to put down a marker for the day, put pressure on France and leave it in the lap of the Gods. It may be that 15 or 20 points could be enough.
    Keith Wood, BBC Sport TV pundit

    1253: A huge roar greets the arrival of the bulk of the Ireland squad joining Ronan O'Gara out in the middle for their tune up.

    1247: As well as the songs there are the toots of harsh horns echoing around the ground and the nearby streets.

    1244: The crowds are milling through the streets to the ground accompanied by choruses of 'Molly Malone' and 'Fields of Athenry'. A cock up in the procedures for selling tickets by the Italian Rugby Federation means this will be like a home game for the Irish.

    1239: Here's a prediction from a regular contributor throughout the Six Nations. It is over to Madrid's very own Mark Kidger.

    "Working here with an Irishman, two Frenchmen and another Englishman who used to coach an American university side, there is going to be plenty of friendly rivalry today. England, I fear, have just left themselves too much to do with that defeat to Ireland. Much as I would love Italy to win again, it has to be Ireland for the Championship and a big win for the English, but in vain.
    European Space Agency Villafranca del Castillo Satellite Tracking Station, Madrid

    Last Sunday Mark's crystal ball went a bit loco predicting a France win, so unless he has had the thing in for an MOT this week there is no need for those of French, English or Italian persuasion to give up hope yet.

    1234: A few of the players are out on the paddock limbering up in Rome and the stands, three of which are open and bask in sunlight, are slowly filling up.

    1231: Ireland have never lost to Italy in the Six Nations, scoring an average of 38 points and, more pertinently in terms of today's twisty mystery of who will walk off with the trophy, by an average margin of 23 points. In Rome those figures drop to 35 and 18 respectively.

    1227: The form book says both teams are in good nick, but if you read the book entitled history you'll find it writ large tales of Irish success. Nine wins on the spin.

    1224: And a firm track is perfect for the running rugby which Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll has hinted at. Coach Eddie O'Sullivan held his cards closer to his chest saying people who expected a big win in Rome were "whistling past a graveyard"!

    1222: No worries with the weather in Italy, although it is not exactly Caribbean hot. Bright and sunny at the Stadio Flaminio with 17C on the thermometer. Perfect for rugby.

    1217: What a week for Irish sport. Cheltenham, the Six Nations, the Under-20s won the Grand Slam with a 36-25 win over Italy on Friday and don't forget the cricket in the Caribbean. Ireland got a remarkable tie against Zimbabwe earlier in the week and today they are in action against Pakistan.

    "Just here at home in Dundalk clad in all things green, ready to hit the pubs & start getting in the pints! I've a great feeling about today! A first Six Nations Championship on Paddy's Day - it's just meant to be isn't it?
    Roisin Farren, Dundalk, Ireland

    1212: As many as 17,000 Ireland supporters have been quoted as descending on the Italian capital, some after a pit-stop in Cheltenham for The Festival.

    1208: Rome is awash with green-clad supporters who have reportedly been fuelling up early on St Patrick's Day. It is never hard to find a naff Irish pub around the world playing U2 and serving Guinness so there should be a good atmosphere. Why is it so hard to replicate an authentic Irish pub? Surely there's not much to it.

    1205: The Irish saunter into their changing room at the Stadio Flaminio, past a young Italian official who looks slightly wide-eyed and intimidated by the gargantuan forwards walking past him.

    1202: The big thing to remember today is that you cannot afford to take your eye off the bigger picture. France, Ireland, England and Italy all need to win to be in with a chance of landing the Championship. No need to get the abacus out quite yet, but we will be keeping our eye on the maths throughout the day.

    1200: Just 90 minutes to go to the start of the day's Six Nations action as Ireland take on Italy in Rome with a chance of winning the Championship.

    Are you in Rome, at a rugby club in Ireland, or maybe you are making your way to Paris to watch Scotland or already in Cardiff for the Wales-England match?

    If so, text us your thoughts on the game and predictions for the day, especially if you are at any of the grounds, to 81111 or email us at

    Italy 24-51 Ireland
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
    Italy v Ireland photos
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
    Berbizier gives credit to Ireland
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
    O'Sullivan content with Rome win
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
    France 46-19 Scotland
    17 Mar 07 |  Scottish
    France v Scotland photos
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
    Ibanez hails character of French
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
    Hadden hails Scots - and France
    17 Mar 07 |  Scottish
    Wales 27-18 England
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
    Wales v England photos
    17 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union

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