The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
At this rate, they are more likely to be playing for the wooden spoon when they return to Paris for the last match on the final weekend, against Scotland on March 16.
Even allowing for the grand old competition’s capacity for the unexpected, nobody could have envisaged such a scenario.
As if losing in Rome wasn’t bad enough, they were whistled off the Stade de France on Saturday night and no wonder.
Les Bleus have become Les Miserables and with Twickenham looming next weekend, the fallen favourites will have to stay in shock mode if they are to knock England off their perch.
Nobody, of course, would rule it out. When they dissect the video of the Wales game, England’s management will find some of it hard to believe which will heighten their suspicion that by Saturday week, France will have belatedly rediscovered their mojo.
This, remember, is still largely the team responsible for the avalanche of 72 points which swept Australia and Argentina aside before Christmas.
Like England, Ireland, Italy and Wales, France, too, have sent for a South African. Antoine Claassen is the latest addition to their Foreign Legion, following such compatriots as Eric Melville, Dries van Heerden and Pieter de Villiers as well as the New Zealanders Tony Marsh and Legi Matu.
They all qualified through the three-year residency rule, Claassen having been in France since leaving the Blue Bulls in Pretoria for Brive six years ago before transferring to Castres.
What sets the back row forward apart from the rest is that his father played for the Springboks although that hardly does Wynand Claassen justice.
He belongs to one of the rarest of breeds, those whose Test debut came with the captaincy, in Claassen senior’s case against Ireland at Newlands in 1981.
His son joins the 23 for Twickenham with a place on the bench at the very least and a sporting chance of going straight into a redesigned back row with Yannick Nyanga’s recall providing another option.
If their ear drums have recovered, the piercing sound of the fans’ annoyance at what they witnessed on Saturday evening ought to provide sufficient motivation.
Wales deserve every credit for stopping their rot, eight defeats having dragged them down to tenth in the IRB rankings.
They hadn’t won in Paris since Martyn Williams’ two second-half tries did the trick eight years ago and this time one piece of Welsh magic was all they needed to win a game they had never been in danger of losing.
Dan Biggar’s exquisite cross-kick fell perfectly for a hurtling George North to keep every part of his mighty frame on the right side of the touchline and score his first international try of the season.
For a big man under pressure from the covering full back Francois Trinh-Duc and with no room for error, that took some doing – as did his father’s leap from behind the dead-ball zone to give the boy George a slap on the back.
France had time to respond with a try but not much of a clue when it came to creating one.
At home in the RBS 6 Nations, they had averaged almost three tries per game and, before last Saturday, had never failed to cross the Welsh line at least once in Paris over the last 40 years.
The last time they failed was way back in the Five Nations of 1973, shortly after moving out of the rickety old Stade Colombes into the wonderfully atmospheric Parc des Princes.
They still came up trumps, three penalties and a drop from Jean-Pierre Romeu seeing them home 12-3 against the famous Welsh team then in between their three Grand Slams of the Seventies.
Within 24 hours of France sinking to the bottom, England rose to the top on the strength of their first win in Ireland for ten years.
Dublin had not witnessed a game like it for half a century because the last time the best of enemies fought it out without letting a try getting in the way happened on the same weekend 50 years ago – February 9, 1963.
Bill Mulcahy captained Ireland from the second row. Richard Sharp led England from stand-off and in conditions described as atrocious, it turned out to be much ado about nothing-nothing.
As Dan Stansfield noted in his book, The Who, When & Where of English International Rugby, ‘This was the second scoreless draw in the post-war period and fortunately, so far, is the last’.
For England’s young team, the win at the new Lansdowne Road may yet prove as significant, in a global perspective, as the one by their infinitely more mature predecessors at the old Lansdowne Road a few months before Martin Johnson and co won the 2003 World Cup in Australia.
Ireland had reason to curse the weather and the early blows which removed Simon Zebo and Jonny Sexton from the action. It was as if Somebody Up There decreed that England had paid their dues for Johnson’s team standing on the wrong side of the red carpet and refusing to budge.
In the ten years since, they had been all over the place in Dublin at three different venues, losing wherever they went and never more heavily than by 30 points at Croke Park in 2007.
This time there could be no disputing England’s superiority, a triumph for their collective discipline as much as anything.
It enabled them to take James Haskell’s sin-binning in their stride, negotiate the ten second-half minutes without him and still outpoint Ireland 6-3 while a man short.
For try-scoring panache, the Scots topped the bill last weekend, stopping the Italian renaissance in its tracks with four thrilling tries in romping home by a distance.
They hadn’t managed that many in the Six Nations for ten years, since Jason White, James McLaren, Kenny Logan and Chris Paterson touched down against Italy in March 2003.
Stuart Hogg, impressive against England the previous week, turned the match with his long-distance interception try and must surely be pencilled in as the youngest Lion in the squad for Australia.
My team of the weekend:
15 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
14 Tim Visser (Scotland)
13 Brad Barritt (England)
12 Matt Scott (Scotland)
11 George North (Wales)
10 Owen Farrell (England)
9 Ben Youngs (England)
1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
2 Rory Best (Ireland)
3 Dan Cole (England)
4 Andrew Coombs (Wales)
5 Geoff Parling (England)
6 Ryan Jones (Wales)
7 Chris Robshaw (England)
8 Toby Faletau (Wales)