Six Nations: France are champions, Ireland win Triple Crown - and Robinson's men are history

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Second is nowhere, so what does that make third place? England's descent from the glory of their World Cup victory just 28 months ago accelerated at Twickenham yesterday as they succumbed 28-24 to Ireland to finish third in the Six Nations' Championship. France had earlier all but secured the title by staying calm in the face of a five-point deficit against Wales with less than 10 minutes to play. Florian Fritz scored a try in the 72nd minute and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde converted before adding a penalty to wrap up a 21-16 victory at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. That ended England's title hopes and left Ireland needing to beat Andy Robinson's side by 34 points to steal the title. In the end, they did at least secure the Triple Crown and second place in the Six Nations. Robinson looked like escaping with a victory that would have prolonged the arguments over his handling of England. But with only 80 seconds remaining, Shane Horgan squeezed over for his second try of the match in the right-hand corner, Ronan O'Gara converted and England were beaten for the third time in their five matches. No argument, no excuses, England were poor and they could hardly have had a better start than Jamie Noon scoring a try in the second minute. The French were patchy, veering between sparkling and dull in most of their matches, but they came good when it mattered. Fabien Pelous, the French captain, said: "We stayed confident because we have a lot of confidence in this team. It was very hard today, but we are very, very happy." The Irish were delighted, and Scotland completed their revival with a 13-10 victory over Italy in Rome, where Chris Paterson scored all their points. Bright spots for England were harder to identify.