A record home defeat against France on Saturday added to a difficult spell for England.
After the 53-10 Guinness Six Nations humbling at Twickenham, the PA news agency looks at what the statistics tell us about the Red Rose’s recent struggles.
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— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) March 13, 2023
Saturday’s seven-try humbling broke the record set by a 42-6 home loss to South Africa in 2008, when the Springboks ran in five tries and fly-half Ruan Pienaar contributed 20 points in total.
Thomas Ramos exceeded that mark by three with a try, six conversions and two penalties for France, with two tries apiece for Thibaut Flament, Charles Ollivon and Damian Penaud.
A 27-3 half-time deficit was also a Twickenham record and even Freddie Steward’s second-half try could not salvage respectability for Steve Borthwick’s side.
Six Nations record
The 53 points scored by France are the most ever conceded by England in a Six Nations match – and indeed they have previously gone through their five fixtures conceding fewer points in total.
England won the 2003 Grand Slam under Sir Clive Woodward – eight months before their World Cup win – and conceded only 46 points in the tournament.
They beat Les Bleus 25-17 in their opening game before keeping their four subsequent opponents to single figures – beating Wales 26-9, Italy 40-5, Scotland 40-9 and Ireland 42-6.
That followed on from 53 points conceded in the previous year’s tournament, a total matched by France in Saturday’s game alone.
The seven tries took the total conceded by England to 14, already their worst record in a Six Nations campaign with this week’s trip to Ireland still to come. England conceded fewer than seven in total in 14 of the first 17 editions of the expanded Six Nations format, up to 2016.
While Saturday’s result stands out, England’s form over this year and last has been inconsistent at best.
They have won only two of their last six games, against a similarly-struggling Wales team and perennial minnows Italy, while last year’s four-match losing run to Ireland, France, the Barbarians and Australia was England’s worst since a six-game run in 2018 against Scotland, France, Ireland, the Baa-Baas and two Tests against South Africa.
England have won just seven out of 17 games since the start of 2022, winning just under 38.5 per cent last year and 50 per cent this year – with the threat of defeat in Dublin dropping that to 40 per cent.
They won 70 per cent in 2021, 89 per cent in 2020 and 71 per cent in 2019, illustrating just how far off their best the current group are.
Of course, even in that context, conceding 53 points to France was a shock to the system.
It was the second time in 12 Tests England had conceded 50 or more, though the other came in June’s non-cap international against the Barbarians when a side then managed by Eddie Jones went down 52-21 at Twickenham.
That was the first 50-point haul given up by England since another Barbarians game in 2018, before which it had not happened since back-to-back Tests away to South Africa in 2007. That means before the two recent examples it had only occurred once in England’s previous 136 Tests, while if Barbarians exhibitions are excluded, the France game was the first time in 144 matches.