England need to tread carefully when they enter the Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road this Saturday.
Since the Six Nations began in 2000, the men in white have failed to win their final match and claim a Grand Slam four times, and twice they have missed out against Ireland in Dublin.
Martin Johnson’s team crashed out 24-8 on the last leg of the 2011 championship, and 10 years earlier, in a finale delayed until October owing to the foot-and-mouth epidemic, Clive Woodward’s team were ambushed 20-14 by an Irish side inspired by skipper Keith Wood, who crossed for an amazing try from a line-out.
Eddie Jones has warned England of an Ireland backlash on Saturday as they bid to secure the rarity of back-to-back Grand Slams.
Billy Vunipola insists England are ready to achieve the “greatness” demanded by Eddie Jones by completing their resurrection from the ruins of their 2015 Rugby World Cup failure.
Their most recent Grand Slam failure was the 30-3 thrashing suffered at Cardiff in 2013, when Wales’s record-winning margin against England gave Warren Gatland’s team the Six Nations title on points difference.
England’s other Six Nations Grand Slam failure was in the rain at Murrayfield in 2000, when Duncan Hodge scored all of Scotland’s points in a 19-13 win.
England, in fact, had their Grand Slam dreams spiked three years in a row at the turn of the millennium, because in addition to the Scottish and Irish matches of 2000 and 2001, Wales had pipped England 32-31 at Wembley in the last match of the old Five Nations era, in April 1999.
All told there have been 23 occasions in Five/Six Nations history when a team’s Grand Slam dream has been killed in their last match.
England have been deprived most often — seven times — followed by Ireland’s five, Scotland and France’s four each, and Wales’ three.
Brian O’Driscoll scores a try for Ireland against England in the 2011 Six Nations. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
England and Wales are the ultimate party-poopers, each nation depriving teams of Grand Slams seven times. France have done so four times and Scotland three.
Ireland have been far from party-spoilers. Their only two “successes” in this respect were those 2001 and 2011 wins in Dublin against English teams.
Italy have never been involved in a match in which a team was denied a Grand Slam.
Years when a team was denied a Grand Slam at the last leg:
1920 England denied Scotland
1923 England* denied Scotland
1926 Wales denied Ireland
1951 Wales denied Ireland**
1954 France denied England
1955 Wales denied France
1965 France denied Wales
1969 Wales denied Ireland
1978 Wales* denied France
1982 France denied Ireland
1984 Scotland* denied France
1988 France denied Wales
1990 Scotland* denied England
1991 England* denied France
1994 England denied Wales
1995 England* denied Scotland
1996 England denied Scotland
1999 Wales denied England
2000 Scotland denied England
2001 Ireland denied England
2003 England* denied Ireland
2011 Ireland denied England
2013 Wales denied England
* In 1923, England went on to beat France later in the season to win the Grand Slam. The matches of 1978, 1984, 1990, 1991, 1995 and 2003 were Grand Slam showdowns for both sides.
** Ireland were denied in a 3-3 draw at Cardiff.
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