England head coach Steve Borthwick conceded “there is a big gap between us and the top teams in the world” after the humiliating record home defeat at the hands of France.
Borthwick saw his side demolished 53-10 – their third-biggest defeat ever and their largest at Twickenham.
“We got exposed today,” said Borthwick.
“I thought we would get a measure of where we are at, and there is a big gap. We understand where we are and what we have to do.”
Borthwick’s pre-match decision to drop captain Owen Farrell for Marcus Smith came undone as a ruthless France ran in seven tries to brutally expose the chasm in class.
Aside from a brief spell at the start of the second half, when Freddie Steward’s try gave England hope of a comeback, the hosts were utterly outplayed.
With 13 handling errors and 26 missed tackles, Borthwick has plenty to work on before his side meet title-chasing Ireland next weekend.
“Certainly you have to give immense credit to France and they are clearly a world-class team,” he added.
“We lost collisions across both lines – attack and defence. We knew they have immense power and unfortunately we didn’t deal with it. When we attacked, they were able to dominate.”
|England have now won two and lost two this Six Nations – they beat Italy and Wales after losing to Scotland at Twickenham in the opening round|
|This is the first Six Nations campaign in which England have lost two home matches|
‘One of our worst performances’ – Genge
Prop forward Ellis Genge was named captain in Farrell’s absence and called the miserable display “a bit of a mystery”.
England actually spent more time than France in the opposition half, but lacked creativity and were exposed time and again by France’s kicking game and speed of thought in the 22.
Genge told ITV: “I am not going to sugar coat it. That is one of our worst performances and we were punished numerous times.
“We asked the boys to keep fighting and I think for 80% of it we were fighting.
“The momentum, it was against us for too long, we didn’t claw it back. I am not hiding away from it, we were well beaten today.
“France are brilliant, they have shown time and time again why they are the number two team in the world. We are way off where we want to be.”
|England’s record defeat is a 76-0 loss against Australia in Brisbane in June 1998, but that was not their strongest team|
‘Players wanted to put in a big game’ – Galthie
France head coach Fabien Galthie was delighted by a victory that gives his side hope of retaining their title heading into the final round.
France, who face Wales in Paris on Saturday, had not win at Twickenham in the Six Nations since 2005.
“I’ve been coming to Twickenham for a long while – 20 years. It’s emotional,” said Galthie.
“We’ve not been satisfied by our Six Nations. We wanted to do something here. The players wanted to put in a big game against England.”
France team manager Raphael Ibanez added: “It was a magnificent performance. Playing at Twickenham and winning that way just shows the quality we have in our side.
“It is probably the best victory away from home in French rugby history.”