France's Damian Penaud scores a try during the Six Nations...

France's Damian Penaud scores a try during the Six Nations rugby union international match between England and France, at Twickenham Stadium in London, England, Saturday, March 11, 2023. Credit: AP/Ian Walton

LONDON — France kept alive its chances of retaining the Six Nations rugby title after a record, seven-try 53-10 humiliation of England at Twickenham fueled by two tries apiece by Damian Penaud, Thibaud Flament and Charles Ollivon on Saturday.

It was comfortably France’s highest score and largest margin of victory in 110 meetings between the cross-channel rivals — the previous bests were in 1972 — and another illustration of the gulf in quality that has formed between traditional northern hemisphere powerhouses six months out from the Rugby World Cup.

Les Tricolores needed a bonus-point win to guarantee taking their title defense to the final weekend and they did so in stunning fashion, via a mixture of French flair and taking advantage of a mistake-riddled home team that has lost two of its four games.

England has never conceded so many points in the tournament's 140-year history.

While England is effectively out of the running for the championship, France was second to unbeaten Ireland only on points difference. The Irish will look to extend their 100% record with a win over Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.

From the moment Flament broke England’s flimsy defensive line in his own half to help set up a second-minute try by Thomas Ramos, the French looked a class apart. They went on to put on a show, embarrassing the hosts as Penaud’s brace of tries in the final 10 minutes took France past a half-century of points and sparked a chorus of jeers from some home fans, many of whom were heading for the exits.

In between, Flament and Ollivon crashed over for tries before halftime — when the score was 27-3 — and added another each in the second half after early fire from England led to its only try, from fullback Freddie Steward.

England's Kyle Sinckler, second from right, talks to teammates after...

England's Kyle Sinckler, second from right, talks to teammates after giving away a penalty during the Six Nations rugby union international match between England and France, at Twickenham Stadium in London, England, Saturday, March 11, 2023. Credit: AP/Alastair Grant

Any thoughts of an English comeback from 27-10 down were obliterated by a four-try burst by Les Tricolores in 18 minutes, starting with Flament running onto Romain Ntamack’s pat-down and running through from 10 meters to score in the 57th.

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