A Sam Johnson try five minutes from time look to have secured Scotland a memorable 38-31 victory, but Ford scored under the posts in overtime and converted, leaving the final score 38-38.
After a blistering first half an hour, tries from Jack Nowell, Tom Curry, Joe Launchbury and Jonny May had put England on course for a comfortable win.
A Stuart McInally breakaway try just before half-time looked to be a mere consolation.
But after the interval England capitulated – with Scotland running in five unanswered tries.
Darcy Graham scored twice either side of a Magnus Bradbury try, and Finn Russell crossed before Johnson put Gregor Townsend’s side ahead.
Although Wales’ victory earlier in the day had secured the title, Eddie Jones will be furious his England side were unable to end the campaign on a win.
For Scotland, there are mixed emotions – they may have retained the Calcutta Cup, and produced one of the most remarkable comebacks international rugby has seen – but players and fans alike will be left wondering: ‘what if?’.
How it happened
The 137th installment of a 145-year rivalry kicked off in front of a slightly subdued Twickenham, following the Welsh victory over Ireland earlier in the day – and after 66 seconds it had it’s first try.
Jack Nowell stepped in off the right-wing and eluded the Scottish cover to score the first of the games 11 tries.
A smart line-out routine five metres from the line then allowed flanker Tom Curry his second try of the competition.
Then, before the game was even 15 minutes old, a barn-storming run from Ellis Genge set the platform for Kyle Sinckler, before the ball was worked out to second-row Joe Launchbury who dived over for England’s third.
Jonny May, the championships top try scorer, bagged his 6th of the competition just before the half hour mark after an audacious backhanded pass by Henry Slade.
There was a swagger about Eddie Jones’ side in the early stages, with some slick handling and flowing rugby.
Hooker McInally’s try for Scotland just before halftime proved to be the start of a mistake-ridden 45-minutes for England.
The usually unflappable Owen Farrell’s kick was charged down by McInally, who ran from halfway to score – a weak tackle from May on the 22-metre line did little to slow his progress.
After the break, Scotland’s backline sprang to life and produced some scintillating rugby to carve through England’s panicking defence.
Winger Graham scored six minutes into the half, courtesy of some clever offloading and feeble English tackling.
Back-rower Bradbury collected Ali Price’s clever chip to score, before Graham crossed again in the corner to put Scotland within a converted try of England with 25 minutes to go.
As head coach Eddie Jones watched on in horror, England then conceded again.
Finn Russell picked off a Farrell pass and raced away to score a third Scottish try in 10 minutes, before Greig Laidlaw slotted the conversion to level the scores at 31-31.
A stunned England began to regain a foothold in the game, but an intelligent Russell pass fed Johnson, who bullied his way over the line.
It seemed that try would end Scotland’s 36-year wait for a win at Twickenham in the most dramatic fashion.
But the last and arguably best game of the 2019 Six Nations had one more twist – England reached the Scotland five metre line three minutes into overtime, before Ford dummied and went over under the posts.
Ford then converted, levelling the scores once again at 38-38, and bringing a breathless contest to an end.
For Townsend’s Scotland, this game accentuated how brilliant – and how poor – they have been in spells of this competition.
For Jones’ England, there is a growing concern that his current squad struggle to deal with the mental demands of competing at the peak of international rugby.
Either way, it was fitting final bow for a fascinating 2019 Six Nations.
What they said
Scotland fly-half Finn Russell was devastated at the final whistle, but was quick to praise his sides second-half performance.
“I’m gutted to be honest,” he said. “At half-time, everyone would have written Scotland off, it was 31-7 and for us to come out and have a second half like that was outstanding.
“It shows the character the boys have and I’m just so disappointed and gutted we didn’t managed to finish it off at the end after Sammy’s try with a couple of minutes to go and seven points up.”
Man-of-the-match Russell also revealed that there was an “argument” between himself and head coach Gregor Townsend during the half time break, as Scotland trailed 31-7.
“I actually had an argument with Gregor [at half-time],” Russell told ITV.
“I said to him ‘you’re telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they’re just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back’.
“Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries. We played good Scottish rugby.”
His teammate Darcy Graham, who scored two tries in the incredible second-half display, was also keen to praise his sides fightback.
“We had a good look at ourselves at half-time,” Graham told BBC Scotland.
“We just said, ‘let’s see what we can get out this game’. We spoke about putting pride back into our badge because it was an embarrassing first half.
“I think we’ve shown that, we’ve put pride into that Scotland badge and it’s just outstanding from the boys.”
England head coach Eddie Jones bemoaned his teams inability to see out games, and called for his players to “put teams like Scotland away”.
“It is a recurring thing. It is not a one off,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“When you want to be the best side in the world you have to put sides like Scotland away. We had the opportunity to do it and we didn’t.”
Jones also pointed to ill-discipline as an explanation for England slipping up against a side that finished second-bottom of the Six Nations.
“We just lacked discipline to keep doing the simple things well,” he added.
“We failed to get control and discipline back into the game when it gets loose, and we think we are on top and get a bit ‘free-wheely’.
“It’s 100% mental – there was no physical difference. It’s going to take some digging deep into the team psyche.”
British & Irish Lions issue Tour Update
The Lions Board confirmed its preference to SA Rugby on Monday evening, prior to follow-up meetings earlier today (Tuesday).
“After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered, I can confirm that the Board’s intended position is for the Tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021,” said Jason Leonard, chairman of The British & Irish Lions.
“We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust COVID-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful, safe and uninterrupted Tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan.”
Mark Alexander, president of the SA Rugby, said he would inform the Executive Council of the South African Rugby Union of the alignment.
“We appreciate the Lions’ faith and share their desire to see a safe and successful tour,” said Alexander.
“We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months.
“There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby, should the event take place without any supporters in attendance, and we cannot ignore that in our considerations. But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players, supporters and our commercial partners.”
Alexander said the original tour schedule was subject to review because of those considerations. Should any changes be required they will be communicated as soon as possible.
Leonard added: “Every British and Irish player dreams of wearing the famous red jersey, and players from the southern hemisphere aspire to be part of a Lions series. We owe it to the current players vying for a place in both squads to ensure they can become part of Lions history.
“We are very much looking forward to taking on South Africa for what promises to be a highly-competitive Series against the reigning World Champions.”
Alexander thanked the Castle Lager Lions Series’ commercial partners as well as the British & Irish Lions and ticket holders for their patience during the extended period of uncertainty.
“As hosts and ‘owners’ of the Castle Lager Lions Series no one has been more affected or more challenged by the current circumstances than SA Rugby,” said Alexander. “However, with the support of our government and good planning we can navigate the pandemic to nonetheless create a most memorable event for players, fans and partners.”
It is not yet known whether international or cross-border travel for supporters will be possible into the country in July. Supporters who have purchased ticket-inclusive packages through Lions Rugby Travel will be notified directly via email with information on the options available.
The Lions remind supporters that all packages purchased through Lions Rugby Travel are protected by the Covid-19 guarantee*. Supporters who have booked packages with official sub agents should contact them directly. For the latest guidance on travelling to South Africa please visit the UK Foreign Office website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa or the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs website: https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/south-africa/
At this time, it also remains unclear whether spectators will be permitted into stadia in July and August. SA Rugby and the Lions continue to work with relevant South African Government departments to ascertain the latest guidance on COVID-19 countermeasure planning for major sporting events and will communicate any updates as soon as it is possible to do so.
In the event that spectators are not permitted to gain access to the Test matches, Lions supporters who had successfully purchased Test match tickets via the Lions ticket ballot will be refunded.
The British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June 2021 for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup will continue as scheduled. However, a decision on crowd size will be made nearer the time of the event and in line with the latest UK Government guidance. For more information, including ticketing enquiries, please visit:
The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.
Ireland make multiple changes for England
There are a number of changes to the team that started against Scotland last Sunday starting in the half-backs where Captain Johnny Sexton is joined in by Conor Murray.
Garry Ringrose is ruled out of the side through injury so Bundee Aki slots in at inside centre with Robbie Henshaw shifting to the No.13 jersey.
Jacob Stockdale returns to the team for the first time since the Autumn Nations Cup win over Scotland back in December and is named on the left wing with Keith Earls on and Hugo Keenan completing the back three.
In the front row Dave Kilcoyne starts at loosehead alongside Rob Herring at hooker and Tadhg Furlong at tighthead.
Tadhg Beirne moves into lock to partner Iain Henderson in the absence of the injured James Ryan.
Will Connors was ruled out yesterday with a knee injury in training so Josh van der Flier comes in at openside. CJ Stander moves to 6 for his final Ireland game in Aviva Stadium and Jack Conan is named at No.8.
Speaking this week about Stander, Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton commented,
“He’s done things for the right reason. His wife and daughter are back in South Africa at the moment. They’ve been there for a few months and they went back for the last lockdown as well.
“It takes its toll, doesn’t it? He’s just taken the decision based on family reasons and we respect him for that, but he’s a big loss to Munster and Irish Rugby.
“He’s been huge for both teams over the last five, six years. Very shocked, but we wish him well and we hope that his last game in green will be one to remember.”
The replacements are Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Jamison Gibson Park, Billy Burns and Jordan Larmour.
The game is being televised by VIRGIN (ROI) and ITV (NI) and kicks off at 4.45pm on Saturday afternoon.
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Engalnd, 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, March 20, kick-off 4:45pm):
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 10 caps
14. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 92 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 51 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 30 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 33 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 98 caps CAPTAIN
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 88 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 42 caps
2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 20 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 48 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 62 caps
5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 21 caps
6. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 50 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 30 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 19 caps
16. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 10 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 108 caps
18. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 36 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 2 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 74 caps
21. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 9 caps
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 6 caps
23. Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 28 caps
Wales name Grand Slam chasing team to face France
Wales are four from four in the Championship and top the table heading to Paris. Beard, who started the first three matches for Wales, comes back into the starting side alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones. Jones, who is the world test record holder with 156 international caps to his name (including nine British & Irish Lion appearances), will make his 148th Wales appearance on Saturday. His Wales caps alone are now equal to the second-highest capped player of all time, Richie McCaw.
Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis are named again in the front-row for Wales with Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau comprising the back-row.
Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar are named at half-back with Jonathan Davies and George North continuing their partnership in the midfield.
Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Liam Williams make up the back-three.
“We are all looking forward to Saturday and to the finale of the Six Nations,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
“We are four from four to date but know this weekend will be a great challenge against a very good French side, but we are looking forward to it.
“We know we need to step up from our previous performances and we want to end the tournament with a performance we know we are capable of.
“We have had great continuity in selection throughout the tournament and that is shown once again with the selection for Saturday.”
Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith and Leon Brown are named as the front-row replacements for Wales with Cory Hill and James Botham completing the forward contingent. Tomos Williams returns from injury to take his place on the bench alongside Callum Sheedy and Uilisi Halaholo.
WALES TEAM TO PLAY FRANCE (SATURDAY MARCH 22 KO 21.00 LOCAL, BBC & S4C)
1. Wyn Jones (34 Caps)
2. Ken Owens (81 Caps)
3. Tomas Francis (56 Caps)
4. Adam Beard (24 Caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT) (147 Caps)
6. Josh Navidi (27 Caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (84 Caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (85 Caps)
9. Gareth Davies (61 Caps)
10. Dan Biggar (91 Caps)
11. Josh Adams (31 Caps)
12. Jonathan Davies (87 Caps)
13. George North (101 Caps)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (8 Caps)
15. Liam Williams (70 Caps)
16. Elliot Dee (36 Caps)
17. Nicky Smith (38 Caps)
18. Leon Brown (16 Caps)
19. Cory Hill (31 Caps)
20. James Botham (5 Caps)
21. Tomos Williams (21 Caps)
22. Callum Sheedy (8 Caps)
23. Uilisi Halaholo (3 Caps)