Dimitri Yachvili slotted two stunning penalties before Clerc and Médard went over to give Les Bleus a 16-0 half-time lead in the quarter-final.
England hit back after the interval with tries from Ben Foden and MarK Cueto either side of a drop goal from from Francois Trinh-Duc but it was too little too late.
France took the lead on 11 minutes after inside centre Toby Flood was penalised for not releasing his man after a tackle. Yachvili stepped up to crash a majestic 45-metre penalty through the posts.
The French scrum half sent another long-range kick over four minutes later after England prop Matt Stevens collapsed a scrum.
Yachvili had a chance to make it three successful kicks from three when Stevens was penalised again for holding on but this time saw his effort drift wide on the right.
Right wing Clerc took advantage of slack England defending to send his team further ahead after 22 minutes, spinning Foden before darting in to touch down. Yachvili sent his conversion attempt wide.
Full back Médard crashed over to score a second try for Les Blues just after the half hour following good work from Morgan Parra and Alexis Palisson. Yachvili again failed to add the extras.
Full back Foden gave the English hope after 15 minutes into the second half when he collected a Flood pass on the left and cut inside, dummying two French defenders in the process to cross for his side’s first points.
Jonny Wilkinson banged over an easy conversion from in front of the posts to reduce the deficit to nine points.
Trinh-Duc hit back at the other end in 72 minutes when he slotted a drop goal from in front of the posts.
Cueto ensured a nail-biting finish when he scored a 77th-minute try that was given after the referee consulted the TMO. But Flood’s conversion attempt flew horribly wide and the French held on for victory.
- France won their sixth RWC quarter-final, a record. New Zealand can join them tomorrow night if they defeat Argentina at Eden Park.
- France qualified for their fifth successive RWC semi-final, equalling the record set by New Zealand from 1987 to 2003, a streak which was ended by Les Bleus in 2007.
- France will play Wales in semi-final one next Saturday night at Eden Park. France and Wales have never met in a Rugby World Cup match.
- Excluding bronze finals, this was only England’s second loss against Six Nations opposition at a World Cup.
- England became the sixth pool winner to get knocked out in the quarter-finals of an RWC. RWC 2011 follows RWC 2007 as the only editions to have two pool winners eliminated at this stage.
- France kept their opponents scoreless in the first half of an RWC knockout match for the second time. Only Australia (three) have achieved this more often.
- England failed to score in the first half of an RWC knockout match for the third time, more than any other team.
- England were the ninth team not to score in the first half of an RWC knockout match. All nine of those side have lost their matches.
- England failed to score in the first half of a Rugby World Cup match for the fifth time. Only Romania (7) and Namibia (6) have done so more times.
- France have won five Tests at Eden Park. Their 42 per cent win rate is the best of any nation other than New Zealand.
- Right wing Vincent Clerc scored his sixth try of RWC 2011, equalling England’s Chris Ashton as top try scorer. That touch down was his 11th World Cup try, extending his French record. New Zealand duo Jonah Lomu (15) and Doug Howlett (13) are the only players to have scored more RWC tries.
- France scored more than 10 points in an RWC knockout match against England for the first time.
- England and France played an RWC match against each other for the fifth time, equalling the record held by five other match-ups.
- England conceded two tries, having only conceded one in their four Pool B matches.
- England manager Martin Johnson was involved in his 23rd RWC match as a player and manager/head coach, equalling the record set by New Zealand’s John Kirwan earlier in this Rugby World Cup.
- Simon Shaw extended his records as oldest England player in a Rugby World Cup match (38 years and 37 days) and longest England Test career (14 years and 319 days).
- England hooker Steve Thompson lost a Rugby World Cup match for the first time in his 11th match. A win would have equalled South Africa’s Frans Steyn as the players with most RWC wins without a loss.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.