Bittersweet victory for Lancaster

Date published: March 22 2015

Stuart Lancaster had high praise for the character of his England side after they fell agonisingly short of claiming the Six Nations title on Saturday.

England's highest-ever score (55-35) against France was not enough as they chased the 26-point win at Twickenham needed to overhaul Ireland on the table.

"It's the fourth time second and it really hurts," said Lancaster.

"I'm gutted really but it was one of the most courageous performances I've seen from a team. It was an unbelievable game of rugby and it was desperately disappointing not to get that try at the end.

"We've come up short but our mindset to keep going and score the tries we did is a testament to the spirit and character of this team.

"I wouldn't call second place a failure but it's obviously not a success. Just beating France is a challenge and winning by 26 points was a big ask but we almost did it.

"We played some fantastic rugby and those two first tries from France hurt us but it will go down as one of the great games of rugby.

"Credit to Ireland for winning the championship, they beat us and congratulations to Joe (Schmidt) and all his team."

"We've come up short and it's tough to take but the overriding emotion is one of pride in that performance. France saved their best game of the Championship for us, they played some fantastic rugby."

"When I look at the quality of players we've got to come back into this team, it's very exciting. There are things we will learn and do better but overall I'm very proud," he added, looking ahead to the World Cup later this year.

"We need to be more consistent over the full 80 minutes to win a tournament like this or the World Cup.

"We know every moment matters in an international game. We've come up short and its tough to take but the overriding emotion is one of pride in that performance."