The first-ever Autumn Nations Cup competition has been decided after an incredibly tense final. Owen Farrell’s penalty won the match for England, in the second half of sudden-death.
The Captain had the opportunity to secure the trophy with a penalty attempt early in extra-time, yet struck the post. The suspense continued for the 2,000 fans at Twickenham, and the millions who watched on from home.
Farrell made no mistake on his second attempt, and won a match that was predicted to be a straight-forward victory for England. France proved that they were not in the final to make up the numbers, and performed exceptionally well, even with a weakened side.
Matthieu Jalibert used tricky footwork to break through the English defence, and played through Brice Dulin to help establish a 6-13 away lead at half time.
The last-ditch efforts of Luke Cowan-Dickie rescued the match for England. The scores were level at 19-19 after 80 minutes, as the Exeter Hooker scored in his classic Chiefs style. He grounded the ball with only seconds left to play, after a powerful rolling maul, from a line-out.
Owen Farrell’s successful conversion drew England back onto level terms, despite the distraction shouts and charge-downs from the French players, which worked to no avail.
The nail-biting end to the Autumn Nations Cup was a great relief to the England players and their supporters.
Dan Robson spoke to England’s official Twitter account, and gave his post-match reactions.
Nicola Bradshaw watched on live from Twickenham as a fan, and described the emotional rollercoaster she experienced.
“It was very strange to see it so quiet and to not have the pushing and shoving from the big crowd which you normally get, it was surreal almost.”
“It was good to get back there and to feel like we are heading in the right direction, it wasn’t a normal atmosphere, but people were trying to make some atmosphere.”
Well done @EnglandRugby and @Twickenhamstad for the COVID safety precautions and getting the fans back but, with only 2000 there, could the celebrations have not faced the fans?? #Rugby #ENGvFRA #EnglandRugby #Twickenham pic.twitter.com/oDpOz1ktwb— Nicola Bradshaw (@NicolaBradshaw0) December 6, 2020
“It was a super relief I suppose more than anything, as well as excitement! It was really great to see them pull it together in the end.”
“To see Farrell hit the post, it was a shock! We are really happy that it all came together in the end and England got the result they wanted.”
England’s home of rugby re-opening impacts more than just fans of the national team.
Ivybridge Community College in Devon, were denied the opportunity to be the first West Country state school to ever play in the National Schools Cup Final at Twickenham, due to the first Lockdown. Coach Adam Northcott hopes that this ground breaking match can go ahead.
“Hopefully now that Twickenham is open we can get the game played but we will have to wait and see.”
“If not Twickenham, then hopefully the game can be played elsewhere, so the pupils can play the game that they have trained so hard for.”