Wayne Pivac's men won the 2021 Guinness Six Nations as France failed to earn the necessary margin of victory to take the championship away from Wales. France was defeated 27-23 by Scotland tonight, despite a last-minute try by Duhan van der Merwe. This means that Wales will finish as champions for a fourth time. The final match of the tournament is between England and Ireland on February 23 at Aviva Stadium.
The news comes just days after it was announced that the Welsh Rugby Union has cancelled the remainder of its season due to the coronavirus pandemic. This means that all of Europe's major tournaments are postponed or have no start date set yet. The only major event that is scheduled to go ahead this year is the Olympics, which are expected to be held as planned in Tokyo in July and August this year. The world's biggest rugby union events of 2021 have been canceled too: the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia has been called off, as has the upcoming World Cup.
Wales' Grand Slam win means they will qualify for the 2021 World Cup in Japan. They will be joined in the tournament by the five other remaining countries who finished within two points of each other - England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and France. The final list of participants will be confirmed in June when the International Rugby Board (IRB) meets to discuss plans for the future of the game.
Grand Slam heartache was followed by Six Nations glory. Wales has had a roller coaster week, but they have finally been rewarded for their efforts by being declared champions of one of the most strange and entertaining tournaments in history. The conclusion to this year's tournament sees us say goodbye to France and welcome England to Cardiff for what will be the final match of this year's competition. However, it won't be the end for either team as we know them today - instead, it will be just the beginning.
Wales has never won back-to-back championships and goes into its final match against England with only one thing on its mind: victory. It has been more than two years since their last triumph and there is no better time for some good old-fashioned championship gold.
There has been criticism that this year's tournament has lacked excitement and drama, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it has been a fantastic season full of memorable matches. Wales has weathered the storm of poor performances throughout the campaign and emerged at the top of the pile at the end of it all. They deserve all the praise in the world for putting up such a fight against Ireland and Scotland, and now they are ready to defend their title.
As for England, this has been another disappointing year for them.
France has won three Grand Slams in the Six Nations, in 2002, 2004 and 2010. Despite having the most Grand Slams of any era (13), England only has two Six Nations Grand Slams to their record, with a clean sweep in 2003 and then again in 2016.
England last won the Six Nations in 2017, when they also won the World Cup. The last time neither team won the Six Nations was in 2005. Previously, England had a run of four consecutive titles from 1999 to 2002. There have been nine different countries win the Six Nations at least once since its introduction in 2000, with France being the most recent winner.
In addition to winning three Grand Slams, France has also won the other two major international tournaments played by both England and France during the Six Nations period: the Heineken Cup and the Rugby World Cup. France won the first Heineken Cup in 1997, while England beat them in the final the following year. In 2007, France won another Heineken Cup after defeating England in the final for a second time. Two years later, England won their third Heineken Cup after beating France 20-17 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
At the end of the 2011 season, England withdrew from the Heineken Cup due to financial difficulties.
It occurs when one team in the Six Nations Championship (or its predecessor, the Five Nations) defeats all of the others in a single year's play. Wales did this 40 times in total, the first time in 1908 and the most recently in 2019. England holds the record for the most Grand Slams, with 13. They first accomplished this in 1921, the same year they also hold the record for the most consecutive championships, winning seven out of eight matches.
The current champions are no doubt New Zealand, who have won the last five tournaments. They're known as the Black Caps because of the color of their cricket balls. The ball is white with black markings and is called a sapling because it was once planted outside the Lord's cricket ground before it was abandoned as a gift from India to New Zealand after the First World War.
India also has four trophies in the cabinet, the most by any one country. They were the last team to achieve this feat, doing so in 2016. Overall, English teams have won the most titles with 23; Australian ones second with 17. No other nation has more than 12 victories.
In addition to the Six Nations Championship, England has won the World Cup of Rugby three times - in 1971, 1995, and 2011. They've also won the Triple Crown on five occasions, which includes the earlier mentioned Sevens World Series.