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RugbyU: England's Grand Slam flops


When England face Wales in their Six Nations finale at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday it will be the first time they have tried to complete a tournament Grand Slam in Cardiff.

England's tally of 12 slams is a tournament record and one more than Wales, who completed their 11th clean sweep last year.

But England have also seen a number of Slam bids fall at the final hurdle, including a 'Celtic hat-trick' of defeats in the years leading up to their last clean sweep in 2003 -- the year where they later won the World Cup.

Below AFP Sport looks back at those recent Slam heart-breakers for England.

1999: Wembley: Wales 32 England 31

Wales have previous when it comes to wrecking England's Grand Slam dreams although this match, a 'home' game for the Welsh, took place at London's Wembley Stadium as the Millennium Stadium was in the process of being built on the site of the old National Stadium in Cardiff.

A match dominated by the boots of England's Jonny Wilkinson and Wales's Neil Jenkins saw England leading 31-25 with four minutes left.

But, rather than allow Wilkinson to take another shot at the posts that could have put his side an unbeatable two scores ahead, England captain Lawrence Dallaglio instead opted for a kick to the corner.

However, Wales won possession and from the last play of the game saw centre Scott Gibbs joyously dance his way over the line for a dramatic try.

Jenkins still needed to kick the conversion to win the match but the fly-half held his nerve and England's defeat saw Scotland crowned champions of the final Five Nations.

2000: Murrayfield: Scotland 19 England 13

England travelled north to Edinburgh in confident mood to face a Scotland side on the brink of a tournament whitewash after a run of four straight defeats, including a 14-point loss in Rome in Italy's Championship debut as the Five Nations became the Six Nations.

However, Scotland's ability to raise themselves when faced with their oldest rivals clearly inspired fly-half Duncan Hodge, who had arguably the match of his life in scoring all of the hosts' points, courtesy of four penalties, a try and a conversion.

2001: Dublin: Ireland 20 England 14

For the third season in a row England were denied a Grand Slam, Ireland completing the Celtic hat-trick of spoiling wins.

England played some of their best rugby of the Clive Woodward era in the early part of this tournament but their trip to Dublin was delayed until October after the foot and mouth livestock crisis in Britain led to travel restrictions which postponed three Ireland matches.

England hadn't played together for several months when they took the field at Lansdowne Road and were caught cold when Ireland hooker Keith Wood threw into a lineout and raced round, taking a return pass, before diving over for a well-worked try.

David Humphreys kicked three penalties to ease Ireland into a 14-6 lead.

Two further penalties by Ronan O'Gara, on for the injured Humphreys, eased Ireland ahead and although England rallied, it was too late.

Indeed come full-time, it was Ireland who were thinking as much about a 'blown' Grand Slam as England following a shock loss to Scotland.

2011: Dublin: Ireland 24 England 8

Martin Johnson was England's captain when they overwhelmed Ireland 42-6 in Dublin to win the 2003 Grand Slam. But he saw the tables turned in his role as England manager.

Sound goal-kicking by Jonathan Sexton and a try by wing Tommy Bowe saw Ireland into a 17-3 interval lead.

And the result was put beyond doubt early in the second half when Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll went over for a fine try.

England took the Six Nations title but now a new generation of players was left thinking of what might have been.