Jonny Wilkinson said England's 19-12 Rugby World Cup exit at the hands of France was a 'painful experience' but he paid tribute to the squad's unity throughout the tournament.
England never recovered from trailing 16-0 at half-time, and second-half tries by Ben Foden and Mark Cueto proved to be in vain as the 2003 World Cup winners were knocked out at the quarter-final stage.
'It's a painful experience, we didn't get off to a great start and we let them get their tails up - we'd said all week that when they get going, they're capable,' said Wilkinson.
'They've got a lot of dangermen and they got a good foothold in the game, and we didn't get the opportunity to respond.
'But I'm massively proud of the way the guys fought the task - we had a couple of opportunities which could have gone a different way and it could have been a different game.
'I'm massively proud of everyone in the squad for the entire trip - they've given everything they've got, there's been a lot of criticism from the outside and they've had a lot of distractions and difficult circumstances to deal with, but everyone has pulled together.'
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