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Rob Kearney of Ireland celebrates with The NatWest Six Nations trophy after the NatWest Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on March 17, 2018 in London, England.Laurence Griffiths

Ireland reaffirmed its status as the new king of European rugby by clinching a Grand Slam in the Six Nations and plunging dethroned champion England into its first real crisis under Eddie Jones.

The Irish won 24-15 at Twickenham on Saturday for their third clean sweep in the annual northern hemisphere tournament, after 1948 and 2009.

"The statement for us was to make sure we won something big," Ireland captain Rory Best said, "and ultimately in this, what turned out to be a cup final for us, to show what we're made of."

While Ireland rejoiced on St. Patrick's Day after a national record-extending 12th straight win, the soul-searching began for an England team that started the tournament seeking a third consecutive title and ended it in fifth place — its lowest finish since the Six Nations expanded in 2000.

Just when the English, after 24 wins in 25 games under Jones, were looking the most dangerous challengers to New Zealand ahead of the 2019 World Cup, they have lost three games in a row. Not since 2006 have they been defeated three times in a Six Nations campaign.

"We've had a fantastic run but now we're going through a tough one," Jones said. "It's not all doom and gloom. It's been our best Six Nations in terms of moving forward as we've learned a lot about what we have to work on physically, tactically and leadership-wise."

The tournament's final round, featuring three matches back-to-back, tied up the loose ends.

Italy collected the wooden spoon, for finishing last, for the fourth time in five years after losing 29-27 to Scotland, extending its losing run in the Six Nations to 17 games.

Wales finished second after squeezing a 14-13 win over France in Cardiff.

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