'Played as we trained': France flanker Francois Cros (C)

Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Francois Cros said France’s record-breaking 53-10 thrashing of England was “beyond our dreams” as the Six Nations champions reasserted their title credentials in stunning style.

The World Cup hosts produced a scintillating display to inflict England’s heaviest home defeat in 152 years of international rugby union.

Les Bleus ran in seven tries and wrapped up a display of total dominance when a magnificent handling move sent Damian Penaud in for the wing’s second score six minutes from time.

While many pundits had tipped France to end their 18-year wait for a Six Nations win at Twickenham, few, if any, had forecast Saturday’s final result.

“I am really surprised by the scoreline,” said Cros. “We really wanted to create a memorable performance. We talked about it before we stepped on the plane.

“We wanted to show how we have progressed and to get some confidence into our team.”

- ‘Fantastic’ -

The 28-year-old added: “The pleasing part is how well the game plan went. We played as we trained and that’s always fantastic.”

France’s victory also owed much to a superb display by a pack that overwhelmed England at the set-piece and forced a succession of turnovers.

Cros, who missed the start of the season following knee surgery, more than played his part with the Toulouse back-row making light of the injured Anthony Jelonch’s absence.

“We always know that we are facing big forwards against England,” said Cros. “It was key to get superiority in the scrum and line-out, and we were also aware of how good the English back-row are at the breakdown.

“We focused all week on breakdown work, planning how we would work together to get an edge. It was absolutely key for us to win those battles to create the platform, to retain ball and to create phase momentum,” he explained.

France’s impressive run of 14 Test wins in a row ended when they lost to Six Nations pacesetters Ireland 32-19 in Dublin last month.

But Saturday’s rout of England restored their hopes of a first global title.

Cros, asked if France could win the World Cup, replied: “Of course. Anyone can. But that is not about one off performances. It’s about getting those rhythms back into the team and being consistent.

“We weren’t where we needed to be before this match, but I know everyone in the camp is a lot happier. We will see!”

Before then France, last season’s Grand Slam champions, could retain their Six Nations title if they beat Wales in Paris next weekend, although they will also likely need England to spring a surprise away to Ireland if they are to finish on top of the table.

“We wish England well next week, hoping perhaps that they might do us a favour!,” said Cros.