Robinson: We were awful

Head coach Andy Robinson gave a brutally frank assessment of England's 31-6 Six Nations defeat to France and admitted: "We were awful." [more]

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Head coach Andy Robinson gave a brutally frank assessment of England’s 31-6 Six Nations defeat to France and admitted: "We were awful."

England never recovered from gifting Florian Fritz a try inside the first minute. Dimitri Yachvili, who finished with 16 points, booted France into a 16-3 half-time lead before Damien Traille and Christophe Dominici rounded off the victory with second-half tries.

It was England’s seventh defeat in 14 Six Nations games since the World Cup and their heaviest in the championship for 20 years.

And Robinson did not mince his words.

"We have got to be totally up front – we were awful today," he said.

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"We have performed poorly in all aspects of the game, right from the first whistle and allowing France to score seven points.

"Whenever we had the ball we either kicked very poorly and didn’t find touch or we knocked on and turned it over.

"We knew over here it was about silencing the crowd. Today, the band played. The players are stunned.

"This is very, very disappointing and as the person in charge it is important I take responsibility for it. Since I’ve been involved this is the most disappointing performance we have had."

England’s preparations were badly affected as gastroenteritis swept through the camp on Saturday night, affecting Matt Dawson, Steve Thompson and Mike Tindall plus replacements Lee Mears and Tom Voyce.

Dawson was hit hardest and was not cleared to play until minutes before kick-off, forcing England to call up a replacement.

Bristol’s Shaun Perry could not be contacted so Andy Gomarsall, who has not played for England since November 2004, flew to Paris on Sunday morning.

In the end, Dawson was cleared to start – but Robinson refused to use the illness as an excuse for such a shambolic performance.

"The issues we had in the game, the tries France scored, were not because of that," said Robinson.

But he did admit he may have reassess England’s World Cup chances after back-to-back defeats to Scotland and France.

Robinson has previously spoken of how confident he is that England can retain their World Cup in France next year.

"It tests your thought process," said Robinson.

"I am very confident in what we are trying to achieve. I am disappointed for the players and the magnificent support.

"We know when you play France that if you give them opportunities you will do well to stay in the game. We gave them far too many opportunities to show how good they were."

England’s points came from penalties converted by Charlie Hodgson, who departed the scene at half-time with a hamstring injury, and his replacement Andy Goode.

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