England vs France LIVE: Six Nations score and result as England fall to humiliating record loss at Twickenham

England suffered their largest-ever home defeat as they were obliterated 53-10 by a rampant France in their Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

England were booed off by a half-empty Twickenham crowd at full-time, with many having left as things went from bad to worse across the 80 minutes as Les Bleus ran in seven tries.

The hosts offered minimal resistance as they were outworked, outmuscled and outclassed – with Thibaud Flament, Charles Ollivon and Damian Penaud all scoring two tries, while Thomas Ramos got another –in a humiliation.

The defeat far outstripped the heaviest previous home loss, a 42-6 reverse to South Africa at Twickenham back in 2008.

Relive England vs France in the Six Nations, below:

England vs France LIVE: Latest Six Nations updates

  • England thrashed by France 53-10 in Le Crunch at Twickenham

  • England fall to record home defeat in humiliation

  • FULL-TIME! England 10-53 France

  • 75’ - TRY! Penaud goes over again (ENG 10-53 FRA)

  • 71’ - TRY! Penaud races away down the right to add to England’s woe (ENG 10-48 FRA)

  • 60’ - TRY! Ollivon smartly grounds the ball after England forced back over their own line (ENG 10-41 FRA)

  • 54’ - TRY! Flament goes over for second try (ENG 10-34 FRA)

  • 47 - TRY! Steward powers through Ramos and over the line (ENG 10-27 FRA)

  • 40’ - TRY! Ollivon goes over after good work from Alldritt down the blindside (ENG 3-27 FRA)

  • 26’ - TRY! Flament burrows over from an attacking lineout (ENG 0-17 FRA)

  • 3’ - TRY! Dumortier feeds Ramos to score a simple two-on-one (ENG 0-7 FRA)

Hopeless England suffer their most humiliating day and worse is to come

19:24 , Luke Baker

If there was a nagging feeling that England’s previous two wins over Italy and Wales had papered over some cracks in this rebuild under Steve Borthwick, then the most humiliating day in Twickenham history ripped them open and exposed the embarrassing core underneath, writes Luke Baker from Twickenham.

Never before, in 152 years of playing international rugby, had an England team suffered a home defeat this heavy. France obliterated their hosts 53-10 – surpassing the 42-6 loss to South Africa in 2008 – to give Borthwick’s men a humbling reminder of exactly where they stand in the pecking order just six months out from a World Cup.

As a reminder, France aren’t even the best team in this Six Nations. That distinction belongs to Ireland and, as luck would have it, England head to Dublin next week to round off their campaign. Get your calculators at the ready – based on this performance, that 76-0 defeat to Australia on the ‘tour from hell’ in 1998 might be under threat.

England were shambolic, as their opponents dominated every facet of the game and scored seemingly at will. Any credit Borthwick had built up as an ex-England captain, with an impressive coaching CV early in his career and as the ideal, straightforward man to follow the drama of the unpopular Eddie Jones era has likely been extinguished. He will need to find answers, and fast, because another display like this and the knives will soon be out.

Report from Luke Baker at Twickenham:

Hopeless England suffer their most humiliating day and worse is to come

Steve Borthwick continues

19:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“Whilst we had plans in place to try and play in a certain way and mitigate the power advantage they had, we didn’t execute well enough and they stopped us doing what we wanted to do.

“[The Marcus Smith selection] wasn’t the main bearing of the game. The main bearing on the game was the contact area. France were able to dominate the contact area and offload. We weren’t able to stop it.

“We’ve got different threats next week but we need to make sure we don’t allow the opposition to develop momentum.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick reacts to England’s record defeat to France

19:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“I think that we are incredibly disappointed with the performance. Immense credit to the French team - their power, pace and class showed. It shows where the gap is.

“I said before the game that it was a formidable challenge. They played well, we played poorly - we have to learn from it and be better. It shows just how much work we have to do here.

“Ultimately, when you play a game and you lose the collisions as badly as we did in defence, and you lose it in attack, those turnovers at the breakdown, it is hard to get a foothold in the game.”

Ellis Genge speaks to ITV

19:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“We were well beaten by 43 points; when you play like that against a team so well coached and with ability like that, that’s going to happen. We were 20 per cent not right and that’s all it takes, too many mistakes and I’m not going to hide away from it, we were well beaten today.

“France are brilliant, there’s a reason they are number two in the world. We need to be a lot better in the contact area, and as forwards we have to own that.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England suffer record Six Nations defeat to France

18:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This will be a big test of the character Steve Borthwick has managed to build in his squad. For Ellis Genge, that was a tough first afternoon as skipper - though Owen Farrell’s conduct appeared to rile the referee after his introduction. You’d say Borthwick might be inclined to go back to his appointed captain in Dublin, but almost anything is surely now on the table.

F/T: England 10-53 France

18:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Of course, the answer to the question of where England go after this is to Dublin for a meeting with Ireland, who might just be chasing a grand slam.

F/T: England 10-53 France

18:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Where do England go after that? There was so much hope in the week that Marcus Smith might unlock another dimension of an attack steadily building during this tournament, but the fly half barely had a chance with the home pack out-muscled and out-classed.

Smith was good in (very infrequent) snatches, and Freddie Steward was the clear English standout - beyond that, it is mighty hard to take any positives from the hosts’ performance.

F/T: England 10-53 France

18:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The pockets of French fans that still populate the Twickenham stands launch into proud renditions of “Allez Les Bleus” as their side begin a lap of honour. An extraordinary performance.

England suffer heaviest-ever home defeat after being humiliated by France


18:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Boos at the full time whistle of an England home fixture for the second time in a matter of months. A chastening afternoon for Steve Borthwick’s side, blown away by a record margin by a simply irresistable French performance. Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou, Thomas Ramos and Gregory Alldritt were all outstanding for the visitors, to name just four from a complete dismantling of an inferior side.

So much for the Twickenham hoodoo.


18:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England 10-53 France, 79 minutes

18:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Chance for a final English consolation? Nope, they won’t even have that - a handling error gives France a scrum five out.

And in one final display of superiority, France win a scrum penalty.

England 10-53 France, 78 minutes

18:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The England supporters who remain rise to a cheer as Marcus Smith has a rare fglimpse of space and sprints into the French 22. England then tap a penalty swiftly.

England 10-53 France, 77 minutes

18:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Patches of green appearing in the Twickenham stands as the English fans try to beat the station rush. This has been utterly, utterly delightful to watch from France, but the home crowd aren’t so enthused.

TRY! England 10-53 FRANCE (Damian Penaud try, 75 minutes)

18:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A nifty fifty!

Simply inexorable. Yoram Moefana is introduced in midfield for France and immediately provides linking hands at the line, pulling back to Thomas Ramos, who has moved to fly half.

Ramos ships it onwards, with his full back deputy, Melvyn Jaminet, arriving at the right time to send in Penaud for a second score in quick succession.

TRY! England 10-48 FRANCE (Damian Penaud try, 72 minutes)

18:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Damian Penaud treads the tightrope and France have another!

This is champagne rugby. Two flicked offloads in the French backfield and Gael Fickou looks up, options apparently limited. Or not - he spots a fatiguing Alex Dombrandt snatching anxious looks at Damian Penaud in front of him.

Fickou’s idea and execution are equally brilliant, turning Dombrandt with a lofted kick, allowing Penaud to put his foot down and collect. The wing foxtrots down the touchline, evading Dombrandt’s dive of desperation and slap at the ankles to gallop over.

England 10-41 France, 69 minutes

18:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Picked off by Ethan Dumortier! A penalty for England is quickly tapped and Alex Mitchell hurls for the touchline, but can’t clear the lanky French wing with Henry Arundell waiting to catch and score.

Antoine Dupont was replaced to an ovation from the entire crowd before that scrum - a deserved salute to an outstanding performance. Maxime Lucu on at scrum half for France.

England 10-41 France, 68 minutes

18:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France are just, perhaps, letting the strength of their lead get to them, playing fast and loose but not necessarily in the right areas. Replacement hooker Peato Mauvaka hitch-kicks on his own line but can’t escape the clutches of Ben Curry - England’s scrum.

England 10-41 France, 66 minutes

18:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Relief for England as France twice make errors five metres out. But any respite is temporary as England answer with mistakes of their own on halfway.

This was Thibaud Flament’s superbly taken second score.

England 10-41 France, 65 minutes

18:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Antoine Dupont really has been extraordinary - again - today. He sparks something from nothing, a delectable chip over the England defence for himself, gathered without breaking stride and allowing him to hurry onwards.

Marcus Smith covers desperately as Ethan Dumortier and Henry Arundell test their sprint speed in pursuit. Smith just about gets there first.

England 10-41 France, 64 minutes

18:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Perhaps unsurprisingly, England’s attack doesn’t quite function as it should, and France claim a knock on and clear.

England 10-41 France, 62 minutes

18:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is unravelling quickly for England. All of their back replacements have been made, so when Ollie Lawrence is forced off, it is the slightly unlikely figure of Jack Walker pressed into duty.

A knock on grants us an opportunity to see how England set up...Alex Dombrandt is at outside centre and Jack Walker on the blindside, which is not a sentence I thought I’d be writing before kick off.

TRY! England 10-41 FRANCE (Charles Ollivon try, 60 minutes)

18:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Smart from Charles Ollivon - the try is good!

France’s chasers arrived in a great blue wave after the kick ahead, driving England back towards their own line. The tackled player’s place rolled into the England in-goal, meaning the lifting of offside lines and permitting Ollivon to reach through the ruck and ground.

Thomas Ramos adds two more to his swelling collection of points.

TMO check - England 10-34 France, 60 minutes

18:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Owen Farrell is warned about his rather aggressive intervention as the officials discuss the angles they’ve seen.

You know what, this might be given...

England 10-34 France, 60 minutes

18:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Now France fancy a proper slaughtering. Thomas Ramos bursts away from his own 22 and has designs on going the length. A kick ahead is smothered by England - I think, at least, because Ben O’Keeffe wants to check a potential French score.

TRY! England 10-34 FRANCE (Thibaud Flament try, 57 minutes)

18:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An audacious take from Thibaud Flament and the lock has his second!

For once Freddie Steward is unable to cover every inch of backfield grass, Antoine Dupont cannily findign the space with a blind chip over his shoulder. The bounce is unkind for the England full back, who is beaten by Romain Ntamack in the air.

Ntamack slaps back, with Flament somehow reaching back a long arm to reel it in like an expert angler and crash over. Thomas Ramos converts.

England 10-27 France, 55 minutes

18:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The rain isn’t quite as heavy as it was in the first half but still the moisture hangs in the air, with a greasy ball and surface just forcing both sides to make sure they are secure of hand and foot. Freddie Steward certainly has been today, again covering shrewdly as France dribble a low kick in behind.

England 10-27 France, 54 minutes

17:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Maro Itoje and Gregory Alldritt meet in a battle of might, like two rutting stags locking antlers as each tries to exert their strength on the other. It ends in stalemate, with Alldritt just about able to smuggle the ball back after a maul had been called, but Ben Curry winning a turnover at the resulting ruck.

England 10-27 France, 52 minutes

17:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England miss touch but a France punt out means they will have a lineout on halfway anyway.

Ollie Lawrence, the other member of England’s midfield with Henry Slade off, is the decoy on an out-the-back play that doesn’t quite work. Jack Willis is then penalised for a neck roll.

That’s his last involvement: Ben Curry steps in to the England back row.

England 10-27 France, 51 minutes

17:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

How’s that for a greeting from the English eight? Falatea is stood up by Ellis Genge and Jamie George, who barks his approval as his head pops up with the blast of the referee’s whistle confirming a penalty England’s way.

England 10-27 France, 50 minutes

17:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France look to their bench to re-steel. Sipili Falatea and Romain Taofifenua form a new power-packed tighthead side of the scrum, with Dorian Aldegheri and Paul Willemse’s work done.

England 10-27 France, 50 minutes

17:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But that’s an error from England’s fly-half - a kick through jitters about like a startled beetle and is fumbled by a stooping Smith.

TRY! ENGLAND 10-27 France (Freddie Steward try, 48 minutes)

17:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Freddie Steward bashes over!

England stir. New nine Alex Mitchell lifts the tempo, with Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell working together in tandem and keeping the runners moving. France get caught with too many men on the floor and a great gaping gorge appears.

England’s giant full back romps through the ravine, loweing the shoulder into the last defender with the appropiate biff to get to the line.

Smith, retaining kicking duties, converts.

England 3-27 France, 47 minutes

17:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Changes for England, with Alex Mitchell and Owen Farrell introduced.

No try! Knocked on! England 3-27 France, 46 minutes

17:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Knocked on! Malins took one score almost exactly like that earlier in the tournament against Scotland, but this time doesn’t quite manage to gather the ball as he slides on to a beautifully flighted Smith chip.

TMO Brett Cronan shows Ben O’Keeffe the angles, and the referee reasonably quickly confirms his on-field call of no try.

Try? England 3-27 France, 42 minutes

17:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Intelligent cross-kick from Marcus Smith, and Max Malins slides in - but is his grounding clean?

England 3-27 France, 45 minutes

17:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England attack the linside channel from the scrum, Marcus Smith finding Max Malins on his inside but France marking it well. Better from Jack van Poortvliet, sniping sharply past two retreating French defenders.

France go off their feet at a ruck underneath their own posts. Penalty to England. Three points won’t make much of a dent in this large French lead - scrum it is.

England 3-27 France, 42 minutes

17:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Freddie Steward is about the only England player in credit so far - he produces another of those right-footed thunderclaps to flip the field, Thomas Ramos concerned about a 50:22 and eventually grateful for a last hop towards the touchline about a metre shy.

France are free kicked as they throw a lineout to a grounded Paul Willemse at the front. England scrum.

England 3-27 France, 41 minutes

17:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ollie Chessum claims the restart and is driven back straight away. England kick up towards halfway, where the ball is allowed to hit the deck by France, but Gael Fickou steals in ahead of Jack Willis to ensure French possession.

Second half - England 3-27 France

17:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France trot out the tunnel first, rather more ready to resume than England, you’d guess. Ellis Genge has an extended conflab with referee Ben O’Keeffe as he re-emerges - it has been a pretty chastening start to life as England skipper for the prop.

No half-time changes, it appears. Romain Ntamack will get things back underway.

H/T: England 3-27 France

17:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Owen Farrell is out doing an extended warm up at half time - might Steve Borthwick consider an early introduction of his captain? Marcus Smith hasn’t been the problem, but England have looked a little short of leadership and fight.

H/T: England 3-27 France

17:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That was some half from Gregory Alldritt, too. There had been a fair bit of discussion in France over the last two weeks about whether the La Rochelle number eight’s lack of form was a concern after his early withdrawal against Scotland - this has been one emphatic answer. Eleven carries, 80 metres, a smattering of tackles, a turnover, and then this try assist to cap his first 40 minutes:

H/T: England 3-27 France

17:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There was so much focus on Marcus Smith ahead of kick off, understandably, but the England fly half has had virtually no quality ball to work with. France’s pack have been utterly in command at set piece and around the breakdown, where Jonathan Danty has also shown prominently.

H/T: England 3-27 France

17:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France’s biggest ever half-time lead over England: 24 points is a fair reflection of their dominance so far. This has been the visitors at close to their best, clinical when they’ve had their chances, brutal around the fringes and tight defensively when required. England have played right in to their hands with inaccurate kicking and a lack of defensive intensity, and France are well on their way to a first Six Nations win at Twickenham in 18 years.


17:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

TRY! England 3-27 FRANCE (Charles Ollivon try, 40 minutes)

17:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A third try to end the half for France!

This is turning into an English horror show. Ellis Genge is positively dismantled by Dorian Aldegheri at the scrum, drawing an advantage and creating the most inviting of blindsides. Gregory Alldritt can’t help but oblige, strolling into it as if he has the freedom of the city and tossing gleefully to his back-row chum, who rifles for the line between two English backs.

Thomas Ramos plants the cherry on a most delicious French first half cake with two more points off the tee.

England 3-20 France, 39 minutes

17:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And even when a chance appears, England don’t have the accuracy to take it. France turn over possession slightly softly after a misdirected Antoine Dupont chip, and if Alex Dombrandt can gather a bouncing wide pass, there is great open expanse ahead of him with a couple of quick men for company. Dombrandt’s hands aren’t secure.

England 3-20 France, 38 minutes

17:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Kevin Sinfield and Steve Borthwick look on glumly from the England coaching box as Max Malins is penalised for a high tackle. It’s not going well for the hosts.

England 3-20 France, 37 minutes

17:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England charge down Antoine Dupont’s attempted box kick clearance, Jack Willis in the way of his Toulouse teammate’s effort, but are whistled soon enough as Ben O’Keeffe once more looks unkindly on a latching England player. Penalty to France.

PENALTY! England 3-20 FRANCE (Thomas Ramos penalty, 36 minutes)

17:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another good stroke of the right boot through the back of the ball from Ramos, who has had a strong opening 36 minutes.

England 3-17 France, 34 minutes

17:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But France will have the chance for an immediate reply - Kyle Sinckler’s hands are caught in the cookie jar after a French counter-ruck.

Thomas Ramos beckons on the tee.

PENALTY! ENGLAND 3-17 France (Marcus Smith penalty, 34 minutes)

17:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

To cheers of relief at Twickenham, England get their first points of the evening. Marcus Smith’s strike is good, sending the ball between the uprights from 42 metres out.

England 0-17 France, 31 minutes

17:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France knock on after throwing a lineout on halfway. A chance for an England attack? Yes, and a useful launch move, a charging Ollie Lawrence turning distributor and nearly freeing Henry Slade to his left.

It is rather less threatening thereafter, with Jonathan Danty introducing Jack van Poortvliet to the girth of his right shoulder and thumping the scrum half into the damp Twickenham surface.

Danty is off his feet at a ruck two phases later, though - penalty to England and this time the call is to take the points.

England 0-17 France, 29 minutes

17:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But where France were oh-so-accurate in the England 22, the hosts get things totally wrong. Their lifters slide in front of the hoisted Lewis Ludlam at the front of the lineout - that’s obstruction, picked up by assistant Andrea Piardi on the touchline just as the backs try to launch their set piece strike. The home crowd sighs.

England 0-17 France, 28 minutes

17:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty to England to just quieten a restless crowd. Maro Itoje is in with snaffling hands and forces Romain Ntamack to hold on after getting himself isolated.

TRY! England 0-17 FRANCE (Thibaud Flament try, 26 minutes)

17:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The former Loughborough lad is over!

Irresistable attack from France. A front peel at the lineout is cleverly constructed, enough deception in the feigned drive to create soft shoulders through which Gregory Alldritt can bash.

Then it is back to French basics, large human beings taking short pass from their brilliant conducting scrum-half, Antoine Dupont finding Thibaud Flament’s midriff and allowing the lock to power between Henry Slade and Lewis Ludlam to the line. Thomas Ramos adds two more to his tally.

England 0-10 France, 25 minutes

17:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Superb from Antoine Dupont. A 50:22 off his weaker left peg, perfectly weighted, perfectly directed, shuffling out over the touchline out of Max Malins’ reach.

England 0-10 France, 23 minutes

17:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Antoine Dupont is challenging the English fringe defence at every opportunity, connecting subtly with Gael Fickou on his shoulder to create a half-break. But England reform, forcing another aimless French kick. Freddie Steward tonks a clearing punt over the head of Romain Ntamack - a steadying blow from the full back’s booming right boot.

England 0-10 France, 21 minutes

17:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is turning into a bit of a nightmarish first quarter for England. There is space in front of Anthony Watson as he retreats to claim a kick, Cyril Baille an inviting penultimate defender in the French chasing line, but the wing fails to make sure of his catch - through his grasp it tumbles and France can instead launch an attack from 30 metres out.

England 0-10 France, 20 minutes

17:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Turned over! France initially stall the maul and then explode it entirely, Gregory Alldritt the detonator-in-chief and forcing an error as Jack van Poortvliet searches for the ball at the base. France clear.

England 0-10 France, 18 minutes

17:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England’s attempted drive never quite pulls out of the station, but one of the French locks is picked out for changing his bind to prevent any late movement. Ellis Genge, to the approval of the crowd, instructs Marcus Smith to find the corner - his fly half duly obliges.

England 0-10 France, 17 minutes

17:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The rain intensifies again, with the errors starting to come more and more regularly. Jack van Poortvliet gets right underneath an attempted box kick.

A prolonged kicking exchange ensues, with England eventually earning the territorial win thanks to a Thomas Ramos slice.

England 0-10 France, 16 minutes

17:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France’s maul goes down in a heap with England getting the timing of their sack right.

Gael Fickou prods rather harmlessly through the English in goal, and the hosts take the option of a 22 dropout.

There was nothing harmless about this opening France try, though.

England 0-10 France, 14 minutes

17:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Energy from England in attack, and their brightest spell of the half so far. Marcus Smith attacks the line, threatening to bust free, but just about dragged back. Max Malins deputises at first receiver, and cleverly pins France back with a left-footed prod with options outside him limited.

But a strong carry from Gregory Alldritt grants France the space they need to kick away a clearance, and England’s ruck detail is off as they try to build from inside their own half. Lewis Ludlam pinged again, this time for failing to keep his feet as a latcher supporting the ball carrier.

England 0-10 France, 13 minutes

16:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France are free kicked at the scrum - England look to the sky, Marcus Smith sending up the spiral...safely claimed by Thomas Ramos five metres from his own line. Mark called

England 0-10 France, 12 minutes

16:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The dampness of the ball is starting to cause some difficulties for both nines at the base, with England in swiftly after French possession spills free. Jack van Poortvliet kicks ahead but Romain Ntamack hurries across to cover smartly.

Max Malins ends a period of kick tennis by setting off on a rightward meander, and England’s hands at the line are nice. Only for a short while, though - a knock on.

England 0-10 France, 11 minutes

16:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Slightly oddly, France kick not for touch but for territory, thumping long in behind Anthony Watson. The England wing produces some lively footwork to fool a chasing Damian Penaud and England clear, but only up to about their ten-metre line - France will take that sortt of gain and a chance to attack.

England 0-10 France, 10 minutes

16:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The rain has started to tumble down from slate grey skies. France make a mess of the England lineout, and soon after earn a holding on penalty at a ruck.

England 0-10 France, 9 minutes

16:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That might just be what England needed - a soft penalty conceded by Jonathan Danty, failing to roll away from a midfield ruck after Ollie Lawrence had charged firmly. Marcus Smith kicks up to the France 22.

England 0-10 France, 8 minutes

16:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England are yet to settle. So fearful is Freddie Steward of the visitors’ long kicking game that he hangs too far back, letting Romain Ntamack’s shallow clearance bounce and gain five more metres than it perhaps should have done.

PENALTY! England 0-10 FRANCE (Thomas Ramos penalty, 7 minutes)

16:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The third precise involvement of the first seven minutes from Thomas Ramos - he has all ten of France’s points so far, knocking over neatly from 22 metres out and ten metres in from the right touchline.

England 0-7 France, 5 minutes

16:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is worrying for England - France are rampant. Gregory Alldritt, below his best in this campaign but still some sight in the open field, squirms away from a tackle and is off at a canter, bashing into Freddie Steward. Antoine Dupont explores the blindside, perhaps foolishly, but England infringe.

The corner must be a temptation after such a hot start, but France will instead try to build through the boot.

England 0-7 France, 4 minutes

16:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And that’s not how England would have liked to respond: Lewis Ludlam shouts his frustration after entering from the side with the ball exposed and a turnover seemingly eminently achievable. Penalty to France.

TRY! England 0-7 FRANCE (Thomas Ramos try, 2 minutes)

16:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle


Two minutes in and already France are over, and it quite majestic fashion. They play from deep, Charles Ollivon standing tall in the tackle of Ollie Lawrence and teeing up Thibaud Flament. Flament’s long limbs are equally skillfully employed, sending the livewire Ethan Dumortier off in electric blue down the left.

Dumortier’s speed creates a simple two-on-one, Thomas Ramos haring after his back three partner to take the pass and scuttle over. Ramos converts tidily - an ominous start from the visitors.

England 0-0 France, 1 minute

16:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Two carries and France go to their long kicking game, Romain Ntamack thumping up field.

Freddie Steward charges back, but the ball spills free aftter he is tackled. Gael Fickou scoops it up and France can attack.

Howls from the away fans as an apparent overlap is eschewed. Antoine Dupont goes himself soon after, looking for a back-door offload, but finding only Steward covering.


16:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ben O’Keeffe blows his whistle - England vs France is underway!

England vs France

16:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Marcus Smith will kick things off on the biggest day of his England career so far. France assemble, ready for receipt of the opening skyward hoist.

England vs France - Match Officials

16:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR)

ARs: Jaco Peyper (SARU) & Andrea Piardi (FIR)

TMO: Brett Cronan (RA)


16:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Both sides are in matching white anthem jackets, standing proudly as the first notes of “La Marseillaise” sound. Twickenham is full to the brim, the travelling support tunefully making themselves heard.

“God Save the Queen” follows after - it is Crunch time.

Out they come

16:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ellis Genge leads England out of the tunnel for the first time as captain, bristling as ever with energy, anger, focus and fire as he strides out after eyeing up the French squad to his right. Antoine Dupont alongside him looks up for it, too, club colleagues Cyril Baille and Julien Marchand right behind him.

England vs France

16:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France looked very confident yesterday as they went about their work in an extensive final training session on the Twickenham pitch. This is the one unconquered territory for this brilliant young side in their development under Fabien Galthie - and this feels as good a chance as ever for them to end their Twickenham woe.

England vs France

16:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Marcus Smith was understandably the talk of the town on the train in today - this is a huge opportunity, and test, for the fly half.

One former England centre has a theory about Smith’s elevation to the starting side...

England vs France

16:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The French team were greeted on to the Twickenham surface earlier by a great roar, indicative of the French predilection for being in your seats early, and a good number of supporters who have hopped across the Channel.

England vs France

16:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It was strangely spring-like earlier at Twickenham, the sun further warming heads already sensibly covered in wool with the temperature due to plunge this evening. But the wind and rain that at one point threatened to make this a slightly unpleasant occasion haven’t materialised, and both side are content enough in shorts as they go through their final warm up.

France disappear down the tunnel first, with England gathering together in a huddle before following their foes back to the dressing room.

‘Mad dog’ Ellis Genge backed to be ‘brilliant England skipper’

16:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Lewis Ludlam has endorsed the promotion of “mad dog” Ellis Genge to England captain after recalling a bruising battle against the Bristol prop as a teenager in schools rugby.

Genge has been entrusted with the leadership duties after Owen Farrell was demoted to the bench for Saturday’s penultimate round of the Guinness Six Nations against France at Twickenham.

It completes the fiery 28-year-old’s rise from Bristol council estate to the pinnacle of the English game and in Ludlam he has a team-mate who will relish following him into ‘Le Crunch’.

“Ellis is a brilliant skipper. He plays with his heart on his sleeve,” Northampton flanker Ludlam said. “When he talks it’s convincing, people can get behind him. He’s someone you want to battle for, someone you want to fight for.”

‘Mad dog’ Ellis Genge backed to be ‘brilliant England skipper’

England vs France

16:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Here is that L’Equipe front cover, by the way. Glorious stuff.

Team News - France

16:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

French sports daily L’Equipe this morning dubbed Twickenham “The Temple of Doom”, planting Indiana Jones’ hat and whip on Fabien Galthie and Antoine Dupont as they hope to at last conquer the home of English rugby again. It is 18 years since France last won here in the Six Nations but this is the best French side to visit since.

Mohamed Haouas’ moment of madness against Scotland prompted a second French tighthead to visit the disciplinary dock, meaning Galthie presses Dorian Aldegheri straight into starting duty ahead of bench weapon Sipili Falatea. Anthony Jelonch’s tournament is over, so Francois Cros starts on the flank.

One notable returnee for France: Jonathan Danty has tuned up over the last couple of weeks for La Rochelle and is back somewhere close to full fitness, ready to again punch midfield holes and “keen” for the contest, according to his head coach on Thursday.

France XV: Cyrill Baille, Julien Marchand, Dorian Aldegheri; Thibaud Flament, Paul Willemse; Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt; Antoine Dupont (capt.), Romain Ntamack; Ethan Dumortier, Jonathan Danty, Gael Fickou, Damian Penaud; Thomas Ramos.

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Romain Taofifenua, Sekou Macalou; Maxime Lucu, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet.

Team News - England

16:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Four games into his tenure as England head coach and already Steve Borthwick has made perhaps his boldest call. Left out of the starting side is Owen Farrell, captain, conductor, defensive leader and fly-half, with Marcus Smith preferred at ten.

Borthwick has backed the Harlequin to play quickly and attack when he can with England hoping to avoid being dragged in to a heavy-hitting slugfest. Smith’s elevation is the only alteration to the starting side, but Farrell’s demotion does necessitate a new starting skipper – Ellis Genge led Borthwick’s Leicester to the title last season and has formed a key part of his country’s leadership team over the last couple of years.

England XV: Ellis Genge (capt.), Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum; Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt; Jack van Poortvliet, Marcus Smith; Anthony Watson, Ollie Lawrence, Henry Slade, Max Malins; Freddie Steward.

Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Dave Ribbans, Ben Curry; Alex Mitchell, Owen Farrell, Henry Arundell.

On to England vs France...

16:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

These Six Nations Saturdays do move along at quite a pace, and the atmosphere is beginning to build at a cool (but perhaps crucially dry) Twickenham.

There’s plenty of French fans in hoping their side can end a horrible recent run at the home of English rugby - but all the talk this week has been about a rather bold selection call from Steve Borthwick...

Why starting Marcus Smith ahead of Owen Farrell is the right call

F/T: Italy 17-29 Wales

16:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Rhys Webb went well on his return to the Welsh starting side, while I thought the partnership between Daffyd Jenkins and Adam Beard functioned nicely in tight and loose. Something to build on for Wales, certainly.

Italy will reload and come again, with a trip to Murrayfield on the final weekend - you hope that a couple of injury issues are not too serious and they’ll give it a better go in Edinburgh.

F/T: Italy 17-29 Wales

16:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Much more like it from Warren Gatland’s Wales, taking their chances early on in the encounter after a couple of Italian errors and then holding their hosts at bay as they tried to rally. A bonus point win in Rome should not be sniffed at given the difficulties both France and Ireland had in the Italian capital - Kieran Crowley’s side were below their best but that should just restore some confidence to the Welsh squad.


16:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Italy 17-29 Wales, 80 minutes

16:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales don’t get their lineout right, and Italy can have won last go at securing a losing bonus point. They’ll have to go from inside their own 22...

Penalty to Italy. A slightly theatrical fall ensures the referee spots a collision off the ball.

It matters not - Welsh hands pilfer the lineout throw and that’s your lot.

Italy 17-29 Wales, 78 minutes

16:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Having lost Ange Capuozzo for the tournament, and with Tommaso Menoncello already off today with what appeared a worrying leg injury, Italy won’t like the sight of Pierre Bruno squealing in pain after an uncomfortable return to earth from a high catch. He’s back on his feet soon enough, thankfully, but the intervention of an offside player in front of him means Wales have a penalty.

Italy 17-29 Wales, 77 minutes

16:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And that certainly will - Federico Zani and Marco Riccioni are forced into retreat and concede a penalty.

A disappointed Michele Lamaro takes leave. The Italian skipper has given his all but he knows that is probably that. Giovanni Pettinelli replaces him.

Italy 17-29 Wales, 75 minutes

16:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ken Owens is recalled to action as Scott Baldwin is forced off from the Welsh front row.

A reset sees more time tick away. The second scrum goes down but Damon Murphy is not keen to intervene. Italy play right, Luca Morisi on Juan Ignacio Brex’s shoulder.

Back to the left. Alessandro Fusco tosses a passs across a pod of forwards, none of whom quite want to claim it. The ball tumbles forward, at first look from a boot, but a knock-on is the ruling, which may all but secure Wales’ win.

Italy 17-29 Wales, 74 minutes

16:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy fluff their lines with their first attempt at building inside the Welsh half but are soon returned to advanced territory, Manuel Zuliani striding impressively to the outside.

A pass flies errant and Wales snare it off the deck, but are penalised shortly after. Six minutes, 12 points - a quick try would make things interesting.

Michele Lamaro calls for a scrum.

Italy 17-29 Wales, 71 minutes

16:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A mistake from Wales gifts Italy the scrum feed, preserving hope of a comeback. They try their best to go from coast-to-coast up the left but Wales handle the runners after a modest gain.

Louis Rees-Zammit claims a kick and charges back on the counter, showing his flashing feet and that irresistable acceleration to beat one. He’s just about hauled back by the shorts elastic and he’s short of clearing players in support - Italy thus win a penalty at the breakdown.

Italy 17-29 Wales, 70 minutes

16:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not with errors like that. Paolo Garbisi screams his disapproval as his runners get all out of order and the ball tumbles free. Wales’ scrum inside the Italy 22.

TRY! ITALY 17-29 Wales (Juan Ignacio Brex try, 68 minutes)

15:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Finally some cutting edge from the hosts!

Alessandro Fusco again plays a key role in a bright attacking moment for Italy, holding the defensive line with his eyes and picking out Pierre Bruno out the back. Bruno makes a half-bust and offloads neatly for Juan Ignacio Brex, who has the appropriate bulk to shake a tackler and score.

Over goes the conversion - surely, surely not?...

Italy 10-29 Wales, 66 minutes

15:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Stolen by Justin Tipuric! An ambitious call from Italy, opting to target the tail, and Luca Bigi has to really strain to force his throw there. That tilts it off line, right into the welcoming grasp of the hoisted Welsh flanker.

Italy do manage to earn a scrum.

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent's website