England are all out of ideas.
They fell to a second successive loss in the NatWest 6 Nations in Paris, a feeble display showed just how far England’s stars have fallen.
The breakdown was a key area, Yacouba Camara and Mathieu Bastareaud overwhelmed England and their passive, frankly dreadful display.
The back row were slow and ponderous often leading to England’s playmaking duo of George Ford and Owen Farrell having to make clear outs on men weighing in at many stone above them.
France are not the side they once were, to lose to them is not just embarrassing but utter humiliation for a team that want to be the best in the world.
France also achieved this with a large number of players like Wesley Fofana missing and following off-field misdemeanours missing some key figures like their biggest attacking threat Teddy Thomas.
The attack was another area that needs some serious attention. Where was the fire-breathing, all-out blistering pace we expect from a back three of Jonny May, Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson?
With no quick ball, England’s half-backs failed to get out of first gear.
There was none of that on show, there was no burning of the French defenders on the outside, England were frankly abject, England were lucky to get any sort of try through May.
Danny Care could not control the game, it shows just how much England are missing the calming hand and box kicking game that Ben Youngs brings.
The idea to put the more physical Ben Te’o into the midfield to deal with Toulon centre Bastareaud worked to the extent that he was not devastating in attack but he was a commanding presence at the ruck and will give Courtney Lawes and Chris Robshaw nightmares.
Perhaps England’s most significant failing was in the penalty count – 16.
Sixteen penalties away from home is just unacceptable, the breakdown played a large part in this with six of those coming from holding on as England’s one-out runners were not properly backed up.
There were no positives from the game, England are in trouble and Ireland will be smelling blood and will relish their trip to Twickenham to claim the Grand Slam on St Patrick’s Day.
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