Whilst there will be no grand slams for any of the six combatants in 2015, let us look back [in anger?] at the grand slam hard luck stories of yesteryear. England have unwittingly acquired a recent reputation for being grand slam chokers. However, the English do not hold the monopoly on grand slam tragedies. I shall now recall the 24 occasions when a country narrowly missed out on a Five Nations/Six Nations grand slam by failing to win their final fixture.
16th of March 2013: WALES 30 England 3
Wales only led 9-3 at the halfway stage. Then the roof fell in on England as winger Alex Cuthbert bagged a brace of tries and the fly half Dan Biggar kicked a drop goal.
19th of March 2011: IRELAND 24 England 8
Tries either side of half time from Tommy Bowe and Brian O’Driscoll helped red-hot Ireland into a 24-3 lead. Steve Thompson then grabbed a consolation try for England.
30th of March 2003: Ireland 6 ENGLAND 42
England led this grand slam decider 13 points to six at the interval before cutting loose in the second half. The centre Will Greenwood scored two of England’s five tries.
20th of October 2001: IRELAND 20 England 14
England were kept in suspense until October. Their patience was not rewarded as an early Keith Wood try propelled the hosts to a storming triumph.
2nd of April 2000: SCOTLAND 19 England 13
England led 13 points to 10 at the halfway stage, but 1990 was repeated as the Scottish fly half Duncan Hodge then converted his own try as well as kicking four penalties.
11th of April 1999: WALES 32 England 31
Wales were outplayed for much of this match, but seven Neil Jenkins penalties kept them in touch, before Scott Gibbs broke English hearts with a late converted try.
2nd of March 1996: Scotland 9 ENGLAND 18
Michael Dods kicked three penalties, but regrettably for grand slam-chasing Scotland, England’s fly half Paul Grayson replied with six of his own, four of them in the first half.
19th of March 1994: ENGLAND 15 Wales 8
Nigel Walker grabbed a second-half try for Wales, but their hopes were dashed by an early try from Rory Underwood and one from big Tim Rodber soon after the interval.
16th of March 1991: ENGLAND 21 France 19
In this grand slam decider, France outscored England by three tries to one, but Simon Hodgkinson kicked fourteen points, while lethal winger Rory Underwood scored a try.
17th of March 1990: SCOTLAND 13 England 7
Three first-half penalties from Craig Chalmers and a second-half try from the winger Tony Stanger won this grand slam decider. England’s late siege proved insufficient.
19th of March 1988: Wales 9 FRANCE 10
Lafond and Thorburn each kicked a first-half penalty. Both teams managed a try after the interval, but Lafond recorded another penalty to avenge the 1978 heartache.
17th of March 1984: SCOTLAND 21 France 12
France led six points to three at the interval. Then Peter Dods kicked another four penalties and converted the flanker Jim Calder’s winning try in this grand slam decider.
20th of March 1982: FRANCE 22 Ireland 9
Two Ollie Campbell penalties helped Ireland to a six-three lead after forty minutes. However, two second-half tries from the hosts emphatically spoiled the potential party.
18th of March 1978: WALES 16 France 7
Fly half Phil Bennett bagged a brace of first-half tries, one of which he also converted. Skrela recorded a first-half try too, but France were second best in this big decider.
1972: Ireland and Wales!
Wales refused to play in Ireland due to escalating violence there. As a result, they ended up with three wins from three and Ireland had two away wins from two matches!
8th of March 1969: WALES 24 Ireland 11
A converted second-half try by Mike Gibson was but a consolation as Wales scored four tries of their own. They were however only eight points to six ahead at half time.
27th of March 1965: FRANCE 22 Wales 13
Wales’s grand slam hopes were truly scuppered as France stormed into a nineteen – nil interval lead. The Welsh fought back, but the damage had already been done.
26th of March 1955: France 11 WALES 16
The away team cruised to an eleven points to nil half-time lead, and then added a second converted try after the interval. France’s hopes of a first grand slam were ruined.
10th of April 1954: FRANCE 11 England 3
Tug Wilson recorded a first-half try for England. The match was poised at three points apiece at the halfway stage, but France went on to spoil England’s grand slam dream.
10th of March 1951: Wales 3 Ireland 3
Jackie Kyle scored the only try of the match, but a drop goal from Ben Edwards [also in the first half] denied Ireland their fourth successive narrow triumph of this season.
13th of March 1926: WALES 11 Ireland 8
The hosts came from eight points to three in arrears at half time to add two tries to their first-half try, one of which was converted to deny Ireland a first-ever grand slam.
17th of March 1923: Scotland 6 ENGLAND 8
Both teams recorded a try in each half, but crucially England converted their second-half effort. The match had been deadlocked three points each after forty minutes.
20th of March 1920: ENGLAND 13 Scotland 4
A Bruce-Lockhart drop goal gave Scotland hope, but they trailed ten points to four at the halfway stage. Ultimately, England broke their hearts with three tries.