England coach Steve Borthwick admitted his team were a long way behind the world’s best sides after France inflicted a record 53-10 drubbing on their hosts at Twickenham in the Six Nations on Saturday.
It was England’s third heaviest ever defeat and their biggest at home, giving Borthwick plenty to ponder after his fourth game in charge and with this year’s World Cup looming large.
“We got exposed today,” Borthwick told reporters. “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. We are hurting.”
England conceded the opening try in the second minute when France carved through their defence for Thomas Ramos to cross in the corner.
England made numerous basic errors, knocking on and conceding penalties as the visitors scored two further tries to lead 27-3 at halftime.
“We lost collisions across both lines, attack and defence,” Borthwick said. “We knew they have immense power and unfortunately we didn’t deal with it. When we attacked they were able to dominate. There is plenty of work on the collision areas.”
Freddie Steward’s try soon after halftime was the only bright spot for England but France dominated the rest of the game, adding four more tries as fans left the stadium long before the end.
Borthwick made the bold call to drop captain Owen Farrell in favour of Marcus Smith but the young flyhalf had little ball to work with and was unable to get England’s back line moving.
Farrell was sent on as a replacement centre but far too late to change the course of the match.
“Certainly, you have to give immense credit to France and they are clearly a world-class team,” Borthwick said. “For us we are really disappointed in that performance, there are lots of things we wanted to do but we couldn’t execute.”