Six Nations - 'Wave of support' for Lancaster
England caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster strengthened his case for getting the job on a permanent basis as his team won a Six Nations thriller against bitter rivals France with a passionate performance that belied their inexperience on Sunday.
Putting together a side who have made up for a lack of caps with an abundance of enthusiasm, Lancaster has led England to three wins from three matches away from home to maintain a slim chance of retaining their Six Nations crown.
Their only defeat came against Wales at Twickenham a fortnight ago and even then they had been on the verge of an upset.
Sunday's 24-22 victory at the Stade de France in 'le crunch' was the new-look England's most convincing showing.
"I'm delighted with the performance tonight. I'm hugely proud of the efforts they all put in, it's not easy to come here and win," Lancaster, appointed interim coach last December, told a news conference.
"It really epitomises the character of the side we're trying to build. Great credit to the French as well, they never gave up."
Lancaster was brought in after the resignation of Martin Johnson, who left after last year's embarrassing World Cup campaign both on an off the field, and he is on the shortlist of candidates to fill the post permanently.
He has been interviewed for the position and England's performances under his guardianship will have done nothing to harm his application as his pledge to develop a team capable of long-term success is showing signs of progress.
"His biggest achievement is that he put some pride in the England jersey," England backs coach Andy Farrell said.
"You can actually feel the wave of support. He's always said from day one that he's building a team for the future but he always said it's about now.
"He wanted to go into the Six Nations and win every single match."
Lancaster's fresh-faced players believe they have been moving in the right direction during the championship.
"For us to come here and play like that is very exciting. We've got great belief in this team. I feel very privileged," flyhalf Owen Farrell, 20, told BBC television.
"We showed against Wales what we can do. We gel more and more every week and it came together today (against France)."
Victory in Paris has left them with a outside chance of winning the title ahead of next weekend's final match at home to Ireland. They would need to beat the Irish by a large margin and hope Wales lose to France next Saturday.
"I always say you control the controllables. You can't control other results," Lancaster said. "What we can control is really focus on playing an Irish side we have a huge amount of respect for."
France will be without Vincent Clerc in Cardiff after the winger picked up a shoulder injury on Sunday, manager Philippe Saint-Andre said after his first defeat since taking over from Marc Lievremont following the World Cup.
"England games always have a scent to them but when you lose it stinks a bit," Saint-Andre told a news conference.
"We lacked precision, and it's hard to win a game when you concede three tries ... We also lacked efficiency. There is not enough understanding between the players and this is my fault."