England will complete a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003 if they beat France in Paris on Saturday.
Wales, Ireland and France have all achieved tournament clean sweeps during that period, but European rugby’s biggest prize has often painfully eluded England.
Here’s how England swept the Six Nations board thirteen years ago.
England 25 France 17
Twickenham, February 15
England opened their 2003 Six Nations campaign against the only team to beat them in the previous season’s tournament, and 20 points from the boot of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson ensured that Les Bleus would not enjoy a repeat performance. Full-back Jason Robinson scored England’s solitary try – France managed three in reply – but they were off and running.
Wales 9 England 26
Millennium Stadium, February 22
England had to dig deep in Cardiff, where fly-half Ceri Sweeney’s goalkicking underpinned a 9-6 interval advantage for the home side. The visitors, though, showed their class after that, scoring 20 unanswered points as Will Greenwood and Joe Worsley claimed tries, with Wilkinson contributing both conversions and four penalties.
England 40 Italy 5
Twickenham, March 9
England blasted out of the blocks like a champion sprinter, racing 33-0 ahead after 20 minutes before going off the boil completely, particularly after Wilkinson departed nursing a shoulder injury. Josh Lewsey (2), James Simpson-Daniel, Steve Thompson, Mike Tindall and Dan Luger were the try-scorers as England extended their winning run at Twickenham to 20 Tests.
England 40 Scotland 9
Twickenham, March 22
England responded impressively following an erratic display against Italy – coach Clive Woodward had said his players needed to up their game “a couple of gears” – as the prolific Wilkinson added another 18 points to his championship total and there were tries from Robinson (two), Lewsey and Ben Cohen as England set up a Grand Slam trip to Dublin.
Ireland 9 England 42
Lansdowne Road, March 30
England unquestionably saved the best until last on a Sunday afternoon at Lansdowne Road, securing a first Six Nations Grand Slam – and their first tournament clean sweep since the 1995 Five Nations – in emphatic fashion. Greenwood (two), Luger, Tindall and Lawrence Dallaglio scored tries, with Wilkinson adding 15 points that took his final championship tally to 77. Eight months later, England won the World Cup.