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England quartet up for Six Nations award

Joseph was one of England's stand-out performers. Credit: PA

England have the biggest representation on a 12-strong shortlist announced by tournament organisers for this season's RBS 6 Nations player of the tournament.

Centre Jonathan Joseph, fly-half George Ford, scrum-half Ben Youngs and number eight Billy Vunipola all feature among the group.

England, despite beating France 55-35 two days ago, were pipped to the title by Ireland, with Wales finishing third.

Three Ireland players make the list - captain Paul O'Connell, centre Robbie Henshaw and scrum-half Conor Murray - together with Welshmen Alun-Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar, Scots Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray, and Italy captain Sergio Parisse.

Surprise omissions, though, include Wales captain Sam Warburton and his team-mate Leigh Halfpenny, plus France wing Yoann Huget.

Throughout the tournament, players were awarded (or deducted) points based on statistical performance across different categories.

Monye to retire at the end of the season

Ugo Monye will hang up his boots. Credit: PA

Harlequins' former England wing Ugo Monye will retire from rugby at the end of this season.

Monye's decision, announced on the official Harlequins website, will end a 13-year playing career at the Twickenham Stoop.

The 31-year-old won 14 England caps between 2008 and 2012, and he also played in two Tests for the 2009 British and Irish Lions in South Africa, scoring a try during the third Test victory in Johannesburg.

"It is a decision that I have been thinking about for a long time, and one that I haven't taken lightly," Monye said.

"I have had an unbelievable 13 years at Quins, and look back on my career with no regrets.

"I can honestly say that the one thing I am most proud of is that I have been a one-club man in a game that is ever-changing, and I am excited to be staying on at the club after my retirement in a different capacity."

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Rugby player fined for homophobic comments

Jacques Potgieter has been fined. Credit: PA

South Africa international Jacques Potgieter has been fined for making homophobic comments during a Super Rugby game in Australia.

The Australian Rugby Union announced they had imposed a 20,000 Australian dollars (£10,450) fine, with 10,000 dollars suspended, on flanker Potgieter following an incident in Sunday's clash between the Waratahs and Brumbies in Sydney.

The ARU said that Waratahs forward Potgieter admitted making comments "contrary to the Australian Rugby Union's inclusion policy", which is designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in rugby.

Potgieter's penalty relates to a breach of the ARU code of conduct, which prohibits homophobic or racist comments.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said: "We take the issue of homophobia in sport seriously and want to provide a positive environment for everyone involved in rugby. Comments of this nature cannot be tolerated."

Police probe 'homopohic tweets' directed at referee

Police are investigating alleged homphobic abuse directed at Owens. Credit: Reuters

Police have launched an investigation into alleged homophobic remarks on Twitter which were directed towards rugby referee Nigel Owens, they said. The comments were posted after he refereed the England v France international at Twickenham yesterday, Dyfed-Powys Police said.

The force said in a statement: "This follows a number of complaints made by members of the public. The tweet concerned has now been removed from the page. The investigation is at an early stage."

England scored seven tries in beating France 55-35 in a dramatic contest, but were unable to overturn a pre-match 26-point deficit as Ireland clinched the Six Nations title on points difference.

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England Six Nations title hopes in the balance

Ben Youngs scored two first half tries. Credit: PA

England lead France at 27-15 at the interval in a match they must win by 26 points to deny Ireland successive Six Nations titles.

Ben Youngs had provided the home side with an ideal start at Twickenham, running over for a try within two minutes which was converted by George Ford.

But the French hit back with two of their own, the first from Sebastien Tillous-Bord and another thanks to Noa Nakaitaci three minutes later during a torrid 15 minute spell for England.

Anthony Watson restored parity as the impressive Ford drove France back, and it was the fly-half himself who converted the resulting kick from the touchline to nudge Stuart Lancaster's side back in front.

Ben Youngs touched down for the fifth try of the first-half, as the English turned defence into attack in a matter of seconds thanks to a brilliant run from Mike Brown.

Ford converted another penalty at the death to set up an intriguing second period where England must must extend their lead by another 14 points to lift the title.

Ireland lead Scotland 20-10 at the interval

There was anticipation in the air as Ireland arrived at Murrayfield hoping that Scotland would not stand in their way of a second successive Six Nations title.

Paul O'Connell scores a try for Ireland. Credit: Reuters

Wales' Rome triumph meant the Irish needed at least a 21-point win to keep hold of their crown and they wasted little time bulldozing over for a fourth-minute try.

A great break from Tommy Bowe took them to within a yard of the try line. And after the visitors kept the move alive, skipper Paul O'Connell found the room to squeeze round a ruck and finish off the touchdown to become Ireland's oldest ever scorer.

Jonathan Sexton added the extras and then a penalty to cement the perfect start.

Sean O'Brien added another try on 24 minutes but Ireland need to extend their advantage over Scotland - who replied with their own try through Finn Russell - by another 11 points in the second half.

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