Scrum Sevens
England's Grand history
ESPNscrum Staff
March 17, 2011
England No.8 Lawrence Dallaglio celebrates a try, Ireland v England, Six Nations, Lansdowne Road, March 30 2003.
Lawrence Dallaglio celebrates a try against Ireland in 2003 © Getty Images

England head to Lansdowne Road on Saturday in pursuit of their first Grand Slam in eight years, their 13th overall, with Ireland desperate to halt the visitors' march once again. Martin Johnson's men will hope to clear the final hurdle with ease, but history tells us that this is a feat easier said than done. In the latest edition of Scrum Sevens we've charted some of England's greatest triumphs, and a couple that got away.

We shall not be moved: Ireland 6-42 England, Lansdowne Road, 2003

As pre-match gambits go, causing potential insult to the president of your opponents' country is right up there with the best. Johnson's refusal to relocate his side for the tortuous presentations resulted in Irish president Mary McAleese getting her shoes muddy, riling certain members of the home camp but not the England skipper. His bullishness, not quite the macho nonsense we see from pretenders to his throne as England's enforcer, preceded a rout as England cruised to their first Slam under the tutelage of Clive Woodward. Two tries from Will Greenwood and one apiece for Lawrence Dallaglio, Mike Tindall and Dan Luger sealed the win, revenge for the events of 2001 and winning momentum prior to their Rugby World Cup campaign. "We were not going to move," England prop Graham Rowntree explained. "Martin said we were not going to be messed about so we stood our ground."

Victorious, but overshadowed: England 21-19 France, Twickenham, 1991

Under the brash, young Will Carling, England enjoyed a period of wild success in the early 1990s. Back-to-back Grand Slams in 1991 and 1992 were sandwiched by an appearance in the second Rugby World Cup final, where they were beaten by Australia. In the final game of the '91 Five Nations it was Le Crunch at Twickenham. Carling's men completed their clean sweep thanks to a try from Rory Underwood and the boot of fullback Simon Hodgkinson, but the game will forever be remembered for Philippe Saint-Andre's try for the losing side. The peerless Serge Blanco started the move from behind his posts, with Jean-Baptiste Lafond continuing the move before Philippe Sella and Didier Camberabero combined. Camberabero's cross kick landed kindly for Saint-Andre and the winger rounded off one of the great tries. "Il est instantane, il est spontane, instanctif," Blanco said afterwards as he puffed on a cigarette. "C'est rugby. Finis."

The Grudge: Scotland 13-7 England, Murrayfield, 1990

England, hot favourites to win the Slam and beginning to motor as a unit, were sent 'homeward tae think again' by Scotland in one of the most famous encounters in Championship history. Scotland, coached by Ian McGeechan and led by prop David Sole, were also in the hunt for a clean sweep and after a spine-tingling rendition of Flower of Scotland and their famous slow march to the field, they turned the tables on their oldest rivals. England had racked up 11 tries and 83 points in their previous three games but could not break the Scottish resolve. Tony Stanger latched onto a chip-kick from Gavin Hastings to score early in the second half and Scotland then dug in for a huge defensive effort, where waves of attack were repelled.

Coining a phrase: England 16-3 Scotland, Twickenham, 1957

In 1957, tries from Phil Davies, Reg Higgins and Peter Thompson helped England to a 16-3 win over Scotland and their first clean sweep since 1928, but the reporting of this match was to have a far greater impact on the history of the game. The Times' Uel Titley previewed the contest and in the process coined the phrase 'Grand Slam'. "There is much more than usual at stake for England to-day in the match against Scotland at Twickenham," he said. "The last time when England achieved the Grand Slam under present conditions was as long ago as the 1927-28 season, but it is difficult to try to build up a case against her repeating the performance to-day."

Ending a drought: Scotland 18-30 England, Murrayfield, 1980

Bill Beaumont's finest moment in an England shirt came in 1980 when he captained his country to a long-awaited Slam against Scotland at Murrayfield. It was their first for 23 years, a long wait, but winger John Carleton topped even that by scoring the first hat-trick by an English player since 1924. Mike Slemen and Steve Smith were also on the scoresheet for the visitors, but it was Carleton's triple, including a late breakaway score to seal the win, that did the real damage. "I chased a Paul Dodge kick and caught it, leaving me 60 yards to sprint for the line," he recalled. "I was thinking, 'This is our day, here I am just about to score my third try in a Grand Slam game'."

First time's a charm: England 3-0 Scotland, Twickenham, 1913

A crowd of 25,000 packed Twickenham to see England win their first Grand Slam, but while the crowd had something to celebrate the game left a lot to be desired as a spectacle. England's winning points came from prop Bruno Brown, whose try proved to be the only score. Skipper that day was forward Norman Wodehouse, who was playing his final Test. A Royal Navy officer, he later served as a gunnery officer in the Battle of Jutland during World War One. He was lost sea after a U-boat attack in July 1941, while commanding a convoy from South Africa.

Scott bloody Gibbs: Wales 32-21 England, Wembley, 1999

England were on course for the first Grand Slam of Clive Woodward's reign as coach until moments from the end of this famous encounter, held at the home of English football due to the ongoing construction work at the Millennium Stadium. With England having seen off their nearest rivals for the title, Scotland, 24-21, the ball was in their court as they powered to a 31-25 lead with minutes remaining. Steve Hanley, Richard Hill and Dan Luger had scored for England before Scott Gibbs set off on a mazy run 20 metres from the opposition line, stepping and swerving his way over before Neil Jenkins added the winning points. Gibbs' try handed the tournament to Scotland on points difference after they had defeated France 36-22 in Paris on the previous afternoon. For England scrum-half Matt Dawson, the pain was a lasting one. On his memories of Wembley, he said: "I don't think of all those May Saturdays of my youth watching cup finals…I think of Scott bloody Gibbs."

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