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Champions! Ireland retain Six Nations title on Super Saturday of rugby

An incredible finish at Twickenham ensured that Ireland were crowned Six Nations champions - after Joe Schmidt's side had earlier seen off Scotland by thirty points at Murrayfield.

In a gripping day of rugby in the Six Nations, it all boiled down to the crucial events in Twickenham where Stuart Lancaster's England emerged victorious in a pulsating game in London. But not by enough to deprive Ireland of back-to-back titles.

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Joy for Ireland in Edinburgh as their 40-10 over Scotland was enough to claim back-to-back Six Nations titles

Joy for Ireland in Edinburgh as their 40-10 over Scotland was enough to claim back-to-back Six Nations titles

Joy for Ireland in Edinburgh as their 40-10 over Scotland was enough to claim back-to-back Six Nations titles

Ultimately England fell just six points short after defeating France 55-35, but could not find the 13th try of the game that would have handed the home side the championship.

Wales did their part in the opening game by demolishing Italy with a devastating second half performance in Rome to emerge victors 61-20. A last-minute try from Italy meant that Ireland had a target of 21 points to reach in Edinburgh to overtake the Welsh at the top of the table.

An early Paul O'Connell try set the tone and further tries from Sean O'Brien (2) and centre Jared Payne helped the visitors to a 40-10 win and leapfrog Wales before attention quickly turned to Twickenham.

The game was a free-flowing affair with five first half tries meaning England enjoyed a 27-15 lead at the interval. In contrast to the majority of the championship, the game simply ebbed and flowed and the second half followed a similar pattern to the first.

A George Ford try reduced the gap to Ireland to 10 points with 25 minutes remaining, but France capitalised on a yellow card to James Haskell to score a breakaway try through Vincent Debaty.

Billy Vunipola replied, before Saint-Andre's men went back down the pitch to drive over to reduce the gap to 13 points, and crucially, 13 points a gap for Ireland over England.

Jack Nowell went over for the twelfth try of a gripping encounter with five minutes remaining, but they couldn't get the crucial final try as Ireland prevailed by the skin of their teeth.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt admitted post-match that it was surreal not to celebrate a 30 point win over Scotland with events in the final game of the campaign yet to unfold.

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the six nations trophy at Murrayfield Stadium. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the six nations trophy at Murrayfield Stadium. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Paul O'Connell (left), and Sean O'Brian with the six nations trophy. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Paul O'Connell (left), and Sean O'Brian with the six nations trophy. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Sean O'Brien of Ireland kisses the Six Nations trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Sean O'Brien of Ireland kisses the Six Nations trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell offers the trophy to the rest of the team.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell offers the trophy to the rest of the team. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Rob Kearney after winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Rob Kearney after winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the Six Nations Trophy (left), as Jamie Heaslip sprays his team with champagne. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the Six Nations Trophy (left), as Jamie Heaslip sprays his team with champagne. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Ireland celebrates winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland celebrates winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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 Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy as they celebrate. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy as they celebrate. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Paul O'Connell celebrates with the Six Nations trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Paul O'Connell celebrates with the Six Nations trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Simon Zebo and Conor Murray of Ireland celebrate victory.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Simon Zebo and Conor Murray of Ireland celebrate victory. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Jamie Heaslip celebrates with the trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Jamie Heaslip celebrates with the trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell lifts the trophy as his team mates celebrate.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell lifts the trophy as his team mates celebrate. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Jamie Heaslip and Devin Toner celebrate with the trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Jamie Heaslip and Devin Toner celebrate with the trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell celebrates after the RBS Six Nations win.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell celebrates after the RBS Six Nations win. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell (third right) and team mates celebrate after the RBS Six Nations match.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell (third right) and team mates celebrate after the RBS Six Nations match. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Ireland players Jamie Heaslip (left) Rob Kearney (centre) and Sean O' Brien celebrate. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Ireland players Jamie Heaslip (left) Rob Kearney (centre) and Sean O' Brien celebrate. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell carries his son Paddy from the pitch at the end of the game.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell carries his son Paddy from the pitch at the end of the game.

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Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne celebrate. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne celebrate. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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Ireland's Connor Murray and Peter O'Mahony acknowledge the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland's Connor Murray and Peter O'Mahony acknowledge the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Jonathon Sexton scores a penalty. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Jonathon Sexton scores a penalty. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland's Peter O'Mahony acknowledges the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland's Peter O'Mahony acknowledges the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Ireland's Jared Payne scoring a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland's Jared Payne scoring a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland's Jared Payne celebrates a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland's Jared Payne celebrates a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland's Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland's Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the match. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the match. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Scotlands Jim Hamilton and Irelands Jamie Heaslip compete in a line out. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Scotlands Jim Hamilton and Irelands Jamie Heaslip compete in a line out. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

REUTERS

Jonathan Sexton in action with Scotlands Finn Russell. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Jonathan Sexton in action with Scotlands Finn Russell. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

REUTERS

Jared Payne is congratulated by team-mate Jonathan Sexton after scoring his side's third try.

Jared Payne is congratulated by team-mate Jonathan Sexton after scoring his side's third try.

SPORTSFILE

Jared Payne touches down to score his side's third try of the game.

Jared Payne touches down to score his side's third try of the game.

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Sean O'Brien scores his side's second try against Scotland.

Sean O'Brien scores his side's second try against Scotland.

SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Luke Fitzgerald, Ireland, is tackled by Stuart Hogg, Scotland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Luke Fitzgerald, Ireland, is tackled by Stuart Hogg, Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Jim Hamilton, Scotland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Jim Hamilton, Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Stuart Hogg, Scotland, is tackled by Paul O'Connell and Cian Healy, Ireland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Stuart Hogg, Scotland, is tackled by Paul O'Connell and Cian Healy, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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Ireland supporters, from left, Richard, Daniel, Jack and Philip Boland, from The Curragh, Co. Kildare, ahead of the game.

Ireland supporters, from left, Richard, Daniel, Jack and Philip Boland, from The Curragh, Co. Kildare, ahead of the game.

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21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Finn Russell, left, and Matt Scott, Scotland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Finn Russell, left, and Matt Scott, Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Ireland supporter Betty Corcoran, originally from Bray, Co. Wicklow, but living in Airdrie, Scotland, cheers the Ireland team's arrival into ground ahead of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland supporter Betty Corcoran, originally from Bray, Co. Wicklow, but living in Airdrie, Scotland, cheers the Ireland team's arrival into ground ahead of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland supporters John, Nicola and Charlie Collins, from Ballsbridge, Dublin, cheer the Ireland team on their arrival ahead of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland supporters John, Nicola and Charlie Collins, from Ballsbridge, Dublin, cheer the Ireland team on their arrival ahead of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Ireland's Luke Fitzgerald arrives into the ground ahead of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland's Luke Fitzgerald arrives into the ground ahead of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Ireland's Sean O'Brien scores their second try of the game during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 21, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Scotland. Photo credit should read: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland's Sean O'Brien scores their second try of the game during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 21, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Scotland. Photo credit should read: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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Paul O'Connell of Ireland scores the first try during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield

Paul O'Connell of Ireland scores the first try during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the six nations trophy at Murrayfield Stadium. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

"It's really awkward, you win in Murrayfield by a 30 point differential and no-one is celebrating," he said.

"We got a couple of tries in both halves and kept pushing the scoreboard. I think the players did incredibly well."

"We tried to stay dynamic and focused on the process."

Ireland threw off the shackles in the final game, with Jonathan Sexton adding 18 points from the boots as Ireland went after a big win.

Finn Russell pulled one try back for the Scots but they were simply overrun by hungry opponents and end the tournament red-faced having lost all five games.

Captain Paul O'Connell paid tribute to his team after the full-time whistle in Edinburgh.

"We knew before we went out but I don't think it changed how we are going to play or what we plan to do," he said.

"A lot of the guys are experienced from playing in the Heineken Cup and the Champions Cup when you come to the last weekends and you might need a bonus point to qualify but you know it's the most dangerous thing to, to start playing like you're trying to win it in the first minute."

"We knew we had certain things to do and certain things we thought we could do that would produce results for us. It was all about focusing on that."

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