France cruised to an impressive 31-6 home victory on Sunday over England to continue their push toward the Six Nations championship. Three unanswered tries from Florian Fritz, Damien Traille and Christophe Dominici did the trick as France celebrated the 1
With English resistance lasting just 41 seconds before the opening Fritz try, it was always going to be a long day for the visitors, and their own poor form and decision making only added to their woes.
The most embarrassing thing for the English will be that France equalled their biggest ever win over them, a 37-12 victory back in 1972, without ever getting out of second gear.
England managed just a single ten minute spell of international standard rugby at the start of the second half, but with only an Andy Goode penalty to show for their efforts that was never going to be enough to overturn the damage done in a calamitous opening period.
England started as they meant to go on with chronic indecision presenting France with a golden opportunity to open the scoring.
Jamie Noon and Josh Lewsey failed to deal with a towering Gary Owen on the edge of the English 22 and Traille stole in to take the ball and pass to Fritz who completed the formality by crossing the line for the first try of the match.
Dimitri Yachvili slotted the conversion and Les Bleus were on their way.
England did get on the scoreboard in the final seconds of the half with a Charlie Hodgson penalty and at only 16-3 behind, they still had a chance to battle back, if only they could remember what game they were trying to play.
England did break virgin ground in the French half after the break but despite their territorial domination, the handling skills simply were not up to scratch in the face of some uncompromising and technically excellent defence from the French.
Not once did England really break the gain-line and as the game wore on the French backs looked more and more likely to start racking up the tries on the back of a solid forward platform.
That it took until the 67th minute for Traille to cross the try line was more down to French errors than anything else.
Dominici intercepted a wayward Andy Goode pass to score under the posts in the dying seconds to give the score a more realistic look as England's Six Nations hopes were extinguished for another year.
France will now travel to Cardiff next weekend knowing a win should seal the Six Nations as long as Ireland don't run up a cricket score when they travel to Twickenham.
England now have nothing play for except pride in that match, with a number of the players and perhaps the coaching staff needing a good performance to ensure their futures on the international scene.
Six Nations Standings