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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

England Wins 5 Nations

-- Wales rewrote the script in a final twist to the first Five Nations' championship of the professional era.


The Welsh, without a championship win for the past two seasons, edged France 16-15 at Cardiff on Saturday in a triumphant return for fly-half Neil Jenkins.


As a result England, beaten by France in the opening round, found to its surprise and relief that it had retained the title after a convincing 28-15 victory over Ireland at Twickenham.


"It is absolutely amazing to end as champions," said England skipper Will Carling, who watched the second half from the stands after tearing ankle ligaments seven minutes before the interval. "We wanted the triple crown, but the Five Nations' trophy did not seem to me a viable option."


Carling, captaining his country for the final time, was not the only one who failed to predict the final act in an unpredictable championship.


The Five Nations' trophy had been taken to Cardiff in the expectation that French captain Philippe Saint-Andre would be holding it aloft after Saturday's final round.


Instead, the Five Nations' committee had to put the trophy on the train for London.


From London's Paddington station, the trophy was taken by taxi to the Hilton Hotel where Irish Rugby Union president Syd Miller belatedly presented it to a limping but delighted Carling.


"It's a great feeling to have won the triple crown again," veteran wing Rory Underwood said. "But we are very surprised to have won the championship. When we came off the pitch we had no idea what the score from Cardiff was."


England did not look like a champion for much of the first half, relying on the boot of Paul Grayson to keep them in contention.


But Ireland, the only Five Nations' team to defeat England at Twickenham during Carling's eight-year reign as skipper, had little to offer apart from the accurate place kicking of England-based full-back Simon Mason.


Lawrence Dallaglio, already touted as a successor to Carling in his first season of international rugby, played a storming game at flanker and there was altogether more urgency and passion about the England performance in the second half.


For probably the first time in history, a Welsh win was greeted with a great roar at Twickenham.


But it was nothing compared to the uproar in Cardiff during a tense final few minutes after a Jenkins penalty had given Wales the lead.


Rob Howley, a big, strong scrum half who looks set to become a fixture in the national side, scored the only Welsh try when he scampered around the French cover early in the first half.