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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

English Try to Score, French Succeed

LONDON -- England was angered by the try that didn't count. Scotland was so fired up by the national anthem that wasn't played that it beat its host Ireland 16-10.


England winger Rory Underwood is convinced he scored a try in the opening seconds of Saturday's 15-12 loss to France on the opening day of the Five Nations rugby union championship.


After all, as England's most capped player and record try scorer, he knows all about crossing the line.


"I put my hand on the ball,'' Underwood said after he had challenged French wing Emile N'Tamack for possession behind the home team's line. "But the referee ruled no try.''


TV replays suggested that Underwood didn't ground the ball and that Irish referee David McHugh was right not to award the try. But with France winning the game through a late drop goal by Thomas Castaignade, that ruling proved to be crucial in a match between the two strongest teams in the championship.


"At the beginning of the game we were a little lucky because we could so easily have conceded a try to Underwood,'' French coach Jean-Claude Skrela said.


Now France has the chance to emulate what England has done in three of the previous five seasons, win the Grand Slam by beating Scotland, Ireland and Wales.


But the Scots are confident that can stop them.


Scotland's players were angry that Irish rugby officials didn't play their traditional anthem before Saturday's other game at Lansdowne Road.


"You will have to ask the Irish Rugby Union why they didn't play the Scottish anthem,'' Scottish captain Rob Wainwright said. "But I think it inspired us even more as we sang it in a group, and it's much louder that way.


"We could have been a bit more adventurous. We sat back and, although that paid off this time, we will be looking to expand more when we play France.''


That game will be on Scots' territory at Murrayfield in two weeks and the French will have to show the same discipline and concentration as against the English.


A game that had no tries became a kicking contest at the Parc des Princes with England fly half Paul Grayson landing two penalties and two drop goals, Thierry Lacroix replying with three penalties and a drop goal and Castaignade scoring the winning kick near the end. "I hardly saw the ball throughout the game,'' said French matchwinner Castaignade on the day he celebrated his 21st birthday.


"It would have been nicer to win with more attractive rugby, but as it came to me to hit the ball and hope I am joyful that the kick was successful.''


Scotland outscored the Irish two tries to one with hooker Kevin McKenzie and wing Michael Dods crossing Ireland's line and prop Peter Clohessy scoring for the home team.


Although the impressive Scots dominated for most of the game, the Irish had chances to tie the game with the usually reliable Eric Elwood missing two angled but close range penalties in the second half.