England lost 53-10 France also Twickenham with a record defeat that kicked them out of the Guinness Six Nations championship rivalry and gave Steve Borthwick’s rebuilding project an alarming reality check.
They were in the midst of a full-blown crisis as they were smashed from the front, trailing 27-3 in the first half – the highest range openings in any fixture at Twickenham.
Thomas Ramos, Thibaud Flament, and Charles Ollivon crossed with frightening ease, and England seemed utterly lost in fault lines, kicks, breakdowns, and discipline opened up in their defences.
The arrival of Owen Farrell and Alex Mitchell from the bench early in the second half came amid an upheaval that led to a tryout for Freddie Steward, but was short-lived as Flament, Ollivon and Damian Penaud pushed France further.
The gap between the opponents was embarrassing, as the World Cup hosts recorded their first Six Nations victory at Twickenham since 2005 with a spectacular return to form, working through most of the tournament.
And things get even tougher for Borthwick’s men, who face the second-placed team in the global standings, as they must head to Dublin next Saturday to pursue top-occupying Ireland for the Grand Slam.
marcus smith He did everything he could to knock Farrell in half, but was powerless to stop the collapse as his forwards scattered on every turn.
Despite all the talk of England playing fast, it was France running out of the blocks and Ethan Dumortier sent Ramos off the left corner as Paul Willemse was locked out.
Ramos added a penalty to reward another Les Bleus attack and with just 10 minutes on the clock it looked bleak for the home side.
England were crippled by their discipline at the time of the breakdown, and apart from Steward’s strong run, they were struggling to make any impression when it started to rain.
The attacks were made through the mallet, but with Jack van Poortvliet’s clumsy advance again, the progress was lost and the familiar sight of France advancing further down the field resumed.
antoine dupont The effect increased as he weaved his magic around the ball, but it was the strength of forwards François Cros and Flament that dealt the damage on the next try.
Flament crossed in the 26th minute but it was too easy for the lock as passive England were beaten on contact.
And their offensive defenses were horribly exposed in the first half when Gregory Alldritt stepped forward and knocked Ollivon down when he saw blue shirts lined up for support.
England needed to move fast, and hope seemed to come when Smith got a terrific kick on the run for Max Malins but only when the wing crossed the line.
It was the defense of France that was now falling apart, and after waves of attack these were overcome as the Steward struggled to slide.
England quickly renewed their attack, but the fight stalled when a brutal bounce cheated their backcourt defence, allowing Romain Ntamack to throw the ball into goal-scoring Flament.
And more misfortune occurred when Smith crossed over his line while protected by Dupont for a hit and touched the ground when Ollivon let the ball go before two late tries by the wing. Penaud has driven the final nail into England’s coffin.