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Saturday, 6 April, 2002, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
France romp to Grand Slam
Olivier Magne takes possession of the Six Nations trophy
Olivier Magne lifts the Six Nations trophy
France 44-5 Ireland

France easily wrapped up their seventh Grand Slam with a five-try romp against Ireland at a sunblessed Stade de France.

It was an irresistible French side who tortured Ireland in the tight and ran them ragged from open play.

It took the home side only three minutes to get their Grand Slam fortunes on the winning track.

  Scoring details:
Tries: Betson (2), Brusque (2), Rougerie.
Cons: Merceron (2).
Pens: Merceron (4), Gelez.
Tries: Wood.

The pack did the spade work with a rumble upfield before the ball was flashed wide for flanker Serge Betson to charge over.

There was a quick reposte by Ireland in the 10th minute when skipper Keith Wood took a pop-up pass from Peter Stringer to brush off two tackles to score.

But that was only a brief respite for the Irish as France turned up the boilers on the run-up to the interval.

Fly-half Gérald Merceron added two penalties to his earlier conversion as the France set-piece play rattled the foundation of the Irish forwards.

Then came two tries out of the French rugby manual with forwards and backs combining to open up the Irish at will.

First it was full-back Nicolas Brusque who scythed through to touchdown out wide after great work by Oliver Magne.

Fabien Galthie gets a lift from his team-mates
Fabien Galthie gets a lift from his team-mates
Then before Ireland had got their breath back, right-wing Aurélien Rougerie was put clear down the blindside by captain Fabien Galthie and his pace took his clear under the posts.

Merceron added the points and then rifled over a penalty to leave his side 28-5 ahead at the break.

If France thought they were going to stride into the sunset, they did not allow for a hard-nosed Irish side.

Although Merceron landed his fourth penalty eight minutes after the restart, they were frustrated by a brave Irish defence.

They managed to free Betson again on the left wing for his second try in the 56th minute.

François Gelez, who had replaced Merceron, who chipped over a penalty as France showed a ruthless streak. But it was not until the final minute that they ended the demolition when they managed try number five with Brusque getting his second after a superb flowing movement.

The scoreline represented France's biggest winning margin against the Irish as they became the first team to win a Grand Slam since Italy became part of the Six Nations.

France: N Brusque (Biarritz); A Rougerie (Montferrand), D Traille (Pau), T Marsh (Montferrand), D Bory (Montferrand); G Merceron (Montferrand), F Galthie (Stade Francais, capt); J-J Crenca (Agen), R Ibanez (Castres), P De Villiers (Stade Francais), F Pelous (Toulouse), O Brouzet (Northampton), S Betsen (Biarritz), O Magne (Montferrand), I Harinordoquy (Pau).
Replacements: O Azam (Gloucester) for Crenca (76), J-B Poux (Narbonne) for De Villiers (64), D Auradou (Stade Francais) for Brouzet (73), R Martin (Stade Francais), P Mignoni (Beziers), F Gelez (Agen) for Merceron (64), J Marlu (Montferrand) for Bory (76).

Ireland: G Dempsey (Terenure); S Horgan (Lansdowne), B O'Driscoll (Blackrock), R Henderson (Young Munster), D Hickie (St Mary's); D Humphreys (Dungannon), P Stringer (Shannon); P Clohessy (Young Munster), K Wood (Harlequins, capt), J Hayes (Shannon), G Longwell (Ballymena), M O'Kelly (St Mary's), S Easterby (Llanelli), D Wallace (Garryowen), A Foley (Shannon).
Replacements: P Wallace (Blackrock) for Clohessy (62), P O'Connell (Young Munster) for Longwell (64), K Gleeson (St Mary's) for Wallace (48), R O'Gara (Cork Constitution) for Humphreys (48).

Referee: P O'Brien (New Zealand).

BBC rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson
"They just get better and better"


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06 Apr 02 | International
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