Six Nations: Stuart Lancaster reflects on England's defeat to France
Last Updated: 02/02/14 11:03am
England head coach Stuart Lancaster was determined to focus on the positives after the heartbreaking last-gasp 26-24 defeat to France at the Stade de France.
Having shown plenty of character to overcome a 16-3 deficit after two opening-quarter tries from wing Yoann Huget, the visitors looked comfortable as they established a 24-19 lead with tries from Mike Brown and Leroy Burrell.
But Gael Fickou scored a superb converted try four minutes from time courtesy of some dazzling footwork to shatter Lancaster's side.
Lancaster reflected: "At the start we put ourselves into a bit of a hole.
"But I thought the boys showed incredible character, resilience and a lot of skill to put ourselves in a position to win it.
"But a bit of French flair at the end and they got the win."
Despite the last-gasp defeat, Lancaster refused to be downcast and said his side can take some positives out of the game.
Wing Jack Nowell and centre Burrell made their England debuts, while Jonny May won his second cap on the left wing in an inexperienced backline and Lancaster was impressed with his youngsters.
He added: "It was a good place to come and the crowd's up and I thought our young players learned a lot today and I'm very proud of them.
"It was a great performance in lots of ways. We're very proud. Once we get over the initial disappointment we'll take a huge amount of positives from the game.
"Games are never won or lost in one moment. Everything matters at this level. It was a great Test match played by two great teams.
"Overall the positives of the performance will outweigh the result, but we recognise we need to win big games.
"Five of our pack made their first start in France. They were the youngest pack in the championship and they did extremely well.
"Games are never won or lost in one moment. Everything matters at this level. It was a great Test match played by two great teams. Overall the positives of the performance will outweigh the result, but we recognise we need to win big games."
"We've learned a lot from this game. We dominated the middle third and to claw our way back from 16-3 was great."
Both of France's first-half tries were preceded by cruel bounces following kicks ahead, although England's wounds were also self-inflicted as they had committed mistakes themselves in the build-up.
"Perhaps the bounce of the ball didn't go our way, but we can only control the things we can control," Lancaster said.
"We can't rely on the bounce of the ball, we need to be out of sight by that point."
France, who finished bottom of the table last year, have been installed as Six Nations favourites in the wake of their victory, yet for much of the match England were in the driving seat.
"We were very disappointed to concede the try. Credit to France for creating the try inside their own half," Lancaster said.
France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre celebrated a triumphant start to 2014 and highlighted the impact made by the two-week international training camp his players were granted by their Top 14 clubs.
"We were lucky to score two quick tries and then we had a very high quality first half," Saint-Andre said.
"The second half was more difficult and we missed a few tackles. When we were 16-3 up we mismanaged the game.
"We were less aggressive and they put us under a lot of pressure. But when we had the ball there were more openings because England were winning fewer collisions.
"We must remember we have won the game and this is a very good start for 2014.
"This is not a revolution, more an evolution. Without these two weeks of preparation we wouldn't have won this game, so thank you to the clubs.
"Modern rugby is very demanding so we really needed this preparation time."