Six Nations: Grand Slam triumph a 'major step' for French rugby, says team manager Ibanez

By Sports Desk March 19, 2022

France team manager Raphael Ibanez celebrated a "major step" for rugby in the country after Les Blues secured a Six Nations Grand Slam with a 25-13 win over England.

Antoine Dupont's 61st-minute try made safe France's first Six Nations title since 2010, with England's Freddie Steward having reduced Les Blues' 18-6 half-time lead in Paris.

France have now won their sixth title since Italy joined the competition in 2000, with only England (seven) boasting more successes in that time, with Wales also winning six.

After capping a fantastic campaign, France have also won their last six Grand Slam deciders in the Six Nations (and previously in the Five Nations), winning the decisive match in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2022 when going into their final game with a 100 per cent winning record.

Speaking to ITV Sport after the win in Paris, Ibanez labelled the triumph a "major step" for French rugby, but called upon the team to continue improving, insisting "there is more to come".

"Twelve years is a very long time [without a title] and it's been a very intense final game," Ibanez said. "But we got the reward. 

"I think we were very lucky to have a fantastic group of players.

"Fair play to England, they tried to break our defence, but I think the team spirit and tactics won us the game. 

"I would recommend our players to keep their feet on the ground because it's a major step for this team tonight and there is more to come. 

"I think we can still improve our game."

France lock Thibaud Flament said he was struggling to process the achievement in its immediate aftermath.

"It's an amazing feeling," the 24-year-old told ITV. "I'm so happy for the team.

"We knew it was going to be a very tough game. The defence was really good, and we managed to win in the end.

"I still can't believe what's happened. It's an amazing feeling and I'm so proud."

No team has secured the Six Nations Grand Slam on more occasions than France, with Les Blues doing so for the fourth time after also accomplishing the feat in 2002, 2004, and 2010. Only Wales can match that haul of 100 per cent records.

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