Reigning Six Nations champions France inflicted England’s heaviest home defeat of all time with a crushing 53-10 win at Twickenham on Saturday.
An utterly dominant France ended their 18-year wait for a Six Nations success at Twickenham in style by running in seven tries.
Thibault Flament, Charles Ollivon and Damien Penaud all crossed England’s line twice after Thomas Ramos, who scored 23 points in all, went over for the opening five-pointer.
A gap of 43 points exceeded the 35-point margin England had given up in a 42-6 defeat by South Africa at Twickenham in 2008.
It was also England’s third worst loss anywhere following a 76-0 hammering by Australia in Brisbane in 1998 and a 2007 58-10 reverse against the Springboks in Bloemfontein.
Victory gave World Cup hosts France their biggest-winning margin over England, surpassing the 25-point gap achieved in both a 1972 37-12 success and a 31-6 triumph in 2006.
Both of those victories came in Paris, whereas the previous biggest win France had managed in defeating England at Twickenham was a mere eight points in an 11-3 success back in 1951.
France’s win on Saturday was all the more impressive given the rainswept conditions in southwest London.
And it maintained their hopes of a successful title defence following a second-round defeat by Grand Slam-chasing Ireland that ended Les Bleus’ 14-match winning streak against all opponents.
“I’ve been coming to Twickenham for a long while, 20 years. I realise. It’s emotional,” said tearful France coach Fabien Galthie.
“The players wanted to put in a big game against England. It’s hard for them. When you know the place rugby has in this country, our thoughts are with the England team who will experience a difficult moment.
“For us, it means we’re for real.”
This was England’s second defeat in four matches since Steve Borthwick succeeded Eddie Jones as coach, with the former Red Rose captain saying: “There is a gap, a big gap between us and the best teams in the world.”
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