France 31 England 6

Woeful England's RBS Six Nations Championship hopes were left hanging by the tiniest of threads after they suffered an emphatic and embarrassing defeat at Stade de France.

The world champions never recovered from a sham-bolic first-half performance which included them conceding a try to French centre Florian Fritz after just 43 seconds.

It rarely improved, as England collapsed to their seventh Six Nations reversal in 14 starts since winning the 2003 World Cup.

The result equalled England's worst margin of defeat against France, having lost by 25 points in Paris 34 years ago.

After coming horribly unstuck against Scotland at Murrayfield last time out, England desperately needed a performance packed with inspiration and invention, but they subsided.

England could still secure Six Nations silverware this season, but they would need to topple Ireland at Twickenham next Saturday and hope France lose to Wales in Cardiff.

On this weekend's evidence, though, neither result appears remotely possible, which leaves England facing the prospect of once again having chronically underachieved in European rugby's blue riband event.

Head coach Andy Robinson will inevitably find himself under pressure as widespread criticism is bound to follow a display which bordered on the abject.

France never really broke sweat, and the only surprise was that they did not manage more than the three tries scored by Fritz, his midfield partner Damien Traille and wing Christophe Dominici.

Scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili kicked 16 points, while all England could manage were penalties either side of half-time by fly-half Charlie Hodgson and his replacement Andy Goode.

That England should capitulate in such fashion will bewilder and anger their fans, and Robinson clearly has a huge task on his hands less than 18 months before the World Cup defence.

England flew in Worcester scrum-half Andy Gomarsall, who had not made a Test match appearance since November 2004, just hours before kick-off after Matt Dawson was diagnosed with mild gastroenteritis.

Dawson took a full part during the pre-match warm up, though, and was eventually able to take his place as planned in the starting XV, with Harry Ellis remaining on bench duty and Gomarsall outside of England's 22.

It took France less than a minute to mock English hopes of a first Paris victory since 2000, opening their account through a try assisted by schoolboy-style defence. Fly-half Frederic Michalak's steepling kick should have been easily dealt with, but fatal hesitancy between Josh Lewsey and Jamie Noon gifted France a bouncing ball and Fritz swept through to leave England stunned.

Yachvili converted, and after such an appalling start, England needed to settle and control possession, but flanker Joe Worsley and then the front-row conceded penalties, allowing Yachvili two sweet left-footed strikes for a 13-0 lead inside 12 minutes.

England were all over the place, and even when they tried to break out of their own 22, a knock-on gifted scrum possession back to France, who should have gone even further ahead but Michalak fired a drop-goal attempt wide.

As if to underline English attempts at comic farce, flanker Yannick Nyanga launched another dangerous raid by running straight through Hodgson, then the ruffled Red Rose fly-half spiralled a kick straight into touch from halfway.

When England looked to attack, basic errors riddled them and aimless kicking became the norm before Yachvili completed his penalty hat-trick in the 31st minute.

Only as half-time approached did England finally look like opening their account after sniping runs by Dawson and Lewsey stretched the French defence.

France appeared to have coped with the threat, but referee Alain Rolland punished them for deliberate offside in midfield and Hodgson slotted a simple penalty, making it 16-3 at the break.

Hodgson, who received treatment after suffering a knock just before half time, did not reappear for the second period and Leicester's Goode won his third cap.

England blasted out of the blocks in a bid to impose themselves, and France had all the early defending to do until Goode rewarded impressive - and overdue - territorial supremacy by kicking an angled penalty.

It was a confident start by the Tigers man - one of only a handful of players to have scored more than 1,000 Premiership points - but France soon resumed normal service when Michalak's slashing midfield break carved England open.

Robinson made a raft of changes from the replacements' bench but England could still find no attacking spark and instead blundered again, allowing France in for their second try after 67 minutes.

Mark Cueto and Ellis chased down a grubber kick but allowed the ball to skid through, presenting Traille with the simple task of touching it down to score the try that sealed matters.

Yachvili's conversion hit the post but he soon made amends with another penalty.

Dominici rounded off the scoring in the last minute with a try after intercepting Goode's pass.