France crushed England 53-10 in Twickenham, ending their Twickenham hoodoo in style and keeping their Six Nations title hopes alive. With relentless physicality, streetwise savvy and a sprinkle of magic, France’s savage performance was ruthlessly efficient in everything they did, dominating the game from start to finish. It was a sobering afternoon for England and a defeat that will pose many questions about their style of play and selection as they were comprehensively outplayed. Individual persecution is unnecessary and unhelpful, and what was more worrying was how sluggish England looked, slow to adapt to events, a trait often used to beat Eddie Jones.
France’s victory on Saturday is the magnum opus of the Galthié and Edwards era, all facets of their game coming together; power, precision, efficiency, and a sprinkling of flair. From one to fifteen, there were heroes, but Antoine Dupont produced a display as outrageous as it was outstanding, cementing his status as a global superstar. France’s identification of space is unparalleled and they brutally and repeatedly exposed England. It was a statement for anyone doubting them in lieu of recent results, squashing any doubts ahead of the World Cup.
England’s strengths against Wales were turned to jelly, with France bossing the kicking game and bullying them at the breakdown. Statistically, England marginally had more possession and territory, but apart from a brief five-minute spell at the start of the second half, they never looked threatening. After falling off the boil in the second half of their win against Scotland, France proved their worth with a fiercely dominant display, reminding everyone of their threat.
England now must quickly haul themselves up from the canvas and prepare for their match against a strong Ireland side. The selection of Marcus Smith over Owen Farrell was a key talking point ahead of the game, but ultimately England were left wanting throughout the park. Steve Borthwick summed it up perfectly when he said, “We got exposed today.” The defeat wasn’t just a loss but a record home defeat and baggage no player wants to carry, adding extra weight to the inevitable criticism that will follow.