It’s agony for England

England captain Chris Robshaw leads his team off at the end at Twickenham

England captain Chris Robshaw leads his team off at the end at Twickenham

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Head coach Stuart Lancaster expressed pride and frustration after England came up agonisingly short of the Six Nations title.

England scored seven tries in beating France 55-35 in a phenomenal contest at Twickenham but were unable to overturn a pre-match 26-point deficit as Ireland retained the title on points difference.

Sensational displays from half-backs Ben Youngs and George Ford – with two tries and 25 points, respectively – plus tries from Jack Nowell (2), Anthony Watson and Billy Vunipola earned a record win over Les Blues as England finished behind Ireland by the slender margin of six points.

“I want to congratulate Ireland on the championship,” Lancaster said.

“I’m sure it was a tense affair for them watching up in Scotland...pretty tense here, if I’m being honest.

“I’m hugely proud of what that England team has shown today and throughout the championship.

“I’ve never seen such a courageous performance from a group of players.

“We’re sat here disappointed but we’ve just gone and put 55 points on France and scored seven tries in the process.”

It was Lancaster’s fourth tournament as head coach and England have finished runners-up on each occasion.

But the Cumbrian was bullish about England’s World Cup chances on home soil later this year.

He added: “It’s not success. I’m not sure I’d put it as failure.

“Losing against Ireland cost us it. The point is a championship is never won or lost on one moment, on one thing.

“You can’t go through the ifs and buts and maybes. Every moment matters in an international game, throughout 80 minutes.

“We’ve come up short again, it’s tough to take. But the overriding emotion is one of pride in that performance today.

“Of course there are things we’ll learn and there are things we’ll do better.”

The incredible Twickenham Test was a fitting climax to a tournament which concluded with a momentous day.

Wales won 61-20 against Italy in Rome before Ireland beat Scotland 40-10.