Ireland top the table with 19 points from four games after securing a 28-8 bonus-point victory over Scotland in Dublin, meaning they can not be caught by England when the two teams meet at Twickenham next weekend.
In fact, this match turned into a battle between England's breakdown deficiencies and France's set-piece turmoil, but the suspense was in seeing whose failings were going cost them victory. And Ireland showed why they are this year's champions - and why they absolutely deserve to be champions - by taking their chances when they came.
England hosts Ireland next week at Twickenham, where Joe Schmidt's team will play for the Grand Slam.
THE 20-point margin of defeat suffered against Ireland yesterday does not do justice to the quality of Scotland's performance, Greig Laidlaw insisted last night.
When you add in a first-ever win over the All Blacks in 2016 - Ireland get another shot this November - Ireland's maiden win away to South Africa and the current record-setting 11 consecutive wins, and it's clear that Schmidt has been groundbreakingly effective in his position. Some going. No-one else came close, each of them losing two matches out of four.
France's centre Gael Fickou (L) runs with the ball during the Six Nations worldwide rugby union match between France and England at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on March 10, 2018.
"We are three or four years behind Ireland in terms of what they've done and achieved over the last few years", Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said.
"It's very similar now: I know Rory is desperate for a Grand Slam because he feels he would be a bigger part of it than he played back then".
Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward says it would be "poor and unacceptable" if Eddie Jones' team finished the Six Nations tournament with a third successive defeat.
And it was the breakdown that ultimately cost England as France centre Mathieu Bastareaud enjoyed great success there.
"Everyone knows the size of the challenge".
"We'll look back at that when we lift the trophy next week, hopefully a Grand Slam".
"England don't seem to have a discernible game-plan there, and they certainly don't seem capable of switching it up when things aren't going well".
If France were disappointed not to add to their lead with their opponents down to 14, they soon shrugged off that disappointment, Machenaud slotting his fourth penalty after their rivals had once again transgressed.
He questioned Jones' use of substitutions and said first five-eighth Ford was "the biggest worry of all".
"Lose that, which is very possible, and, as defending champions, England will have finished with only two victories".
Star fly-half Johnny Sexton savoured the "strange feeling" of Ireland winning their third Six Nations title under Joe Schmidt on Saturday with a game to spare.