Five things we learned from England v France

France finally put an end to their Twickenham hoodoo as they ran away to a record 53-10 win over England.

France finally put an end to their Twickenham hoodoo as they ran away to a record 53-10 win over England.

Fabien Galthié’s men rewrote the record books – it was their first win at HQ since 2005 and their biggest-ever win over England, who suffered their biggest-ever defeat on home soil.

Try doubles from Thibaud Flament, Charles Ollivon and Damian Penaud after Thomas Ramos’ opening try stunned Twickenham, with Freddie Steward’s try shortly after half-time proving to be nothing more than a consolation.

With records tumbling and France keeping their title hopes alive, there was plenty to learn in London.

France remain the real deal

After Grand Slam glory last year, this Championship had not quite reached those heights for France with narrow wins over Italy and Scotland and defeat to Ireland.

From the first whistle at Twickenham today though, there were no signs of faltering with France beating England in every single aspect of the game.

Sean Edwards’ defence was on point, preventing England’s exciting back line from building any sort of momentum.

At the breakdown and set piece France were also far superior but when scoring 53 points, you simply have to look at the attack, led on by France’s often forgotten member of the coaching staff, Laurent Labit.

The sheer variety of ways in which Les Bleus were able to carve England apart was extraordinary, led of course on field by captain Antoine Dupont, who is running out of strings to add to his bow.

He was at his very best today, creating the fourth try with a wonderful chip over the top from a box kick, but what was remarkable was France’s ability to attack across the board.

The first four tries all started with a surging run from someone in the pack, before Ramos and Fickou created something out of nothing and arguably the best try was Penaud’s second, with England unable to deal with a backs move straight off the training ground.

Hats off to Labit, today was his day to shine.

Fabulous Flament lights up Twickenham

Thibaud Flament’s story is well documented in England, once a member of Loughborough Students’ Fifth XV where he played fly-half, and those skills were on show today in what was surely his best game in a France shirt.

Essentially setting up the first try with a powerful surge and offload, before scoring two of his own, Flament was faultless.

Only Ramos broke through more tackles than Flament’s four, while his sole offload got France on their way and he gathered an impressive 48 metres from just six carries.

Comparatively it was a quiet day defensively, but his nine tackles took him to the top of the charts for the Championship, with 67 tackles overall.

Much was made pre-Championship on the absence of Cameron Woki, one of the stars of the French pack in their Grand Slam last year, but Flament has ensured that not only has Woki not been missed, he will also have a serious job on his hands to get his place back.

Les Bleus show England how far they need to go

As much as it was a day to remember for Galthié and France, it was very much a day to forget for Steve Borthwick and England.

There was very little to cheer about for the capacity Twickenham crowd, with Ramos’ try coming inside two minutes and Penaud’s second coming in the final five.

But what this really showed was just how much of a mountain England need to climb to catch the best sides in the world, with only six months to go until the World Cup.

Borthwick has been chopping and changing so far as he tries to find his best 23 as quickly as possible, and after today’s humiliation, he may well be doing so again going into their daunting trip to Ireland.

He said: “Certainly you have to give immense credit to France and they are clearly a world class team.

“For us we are really disappointed in that performance, there are lots of things we wanted to do but we couldn’t execute.

“We got exposed today. I thought we would get a measure of where we are at, there is a big gap between us and the top teams in the world – I think we understand where we are and what we have to do.”

England need to find a way to bridge that gap and quickly, and there is no tougher place in the world to do it than Dublin.

France back row in fine hands without Jelonch

Despite victory against Scotland getting France back on track, the main story was inevitably the disappointing news of Anthony Jelonch’s torn ACL.

Jelonch had been one of France’s stars of the Championship so far, and there were worries he might be missed at Twickenham and beyond.

Up step François Cros, who joined Charles Ollivon and Gregory Alldritt to form what was coincidentally Galthié’s back row in his first match in charge – a 24-17 win over England in the 2020 Championship.

Galthié’s first captain Ollivon scored two tries that day, and he was at it again at Twickenham, finishing off a try that was started off by one of several quality carries by Gregory Alldritt shortly before half-time, before cleverly dotting the ball down when Marcus Smith had placed it over his own try-line.

Ollivon and Alldritt may have caught the eye with their respective attacking displays, but credit must go to Cros too.

Only Alex Dombrandt made more tackles than Cros’ 13, while his 33 metres from just four carries, shows he also had a quietly excellent game in attack.

Jelonch is a loss, but with Cros slotting back into Galthié’s original back row like he was never gone, he is a loss than can be dealt with.

Danty the glue that holds it all together

One injured player out of the starting XV, but one key cog of the Grand Slam side came back and boy did he make an impression.

Jonathan Danty missed out on each of the opening three matches with a knee injury, but he did not take long to get used to international rugby again at Twickenham today.

A far more intelligent player than ever given credit for, Danty was at his best in attack and defence and proved he is very much the glue that holds the whole France backline together.

His 27 metres from six carries appear minor, but he was excellent at getting France over the gain line, keeping attacks going, or simply acting as the decoy, such is the threat he brings with ball in hand.

Today though, the most eye-catching thing was his work in defence, not just making nine tackles, but winning two breakdown turnovers.

It is no coincidence that Danty’s return saw France to their most convincing win of the Championship and he re-affirmed his importance to the side once again today.