Raphael Ibanez paid tribute to a fantastic group of players after France ended their 12-year wait to win the Guinness Six Nations by securing the Grand Slam on Super Saturday.
After back-to-back runners-up finishes under Fabien Galthie, France finally made it back to the top of the tree with a faultless campaign that culminated against their biggest rivals.
Gael Fickou and Francois Cros scored first-half tries to help France take an 18-6 lead but England battled back and threatened to ruin the Stade de France party when Freddie Steward crossed in the corner and Marcus Smith converted.
But Antoine Dupont once again showed why he’s the best player in the world as he delivered a knock-out blow at the perfect time with a try 19 minutes from time.
And team manager Ibanez says that team spirit and never-say-die attitude has made all the difference in this campaign before sounding a warning to France’s rivals.
“Twelve years is a very long time and it was a very tense game but we got the reward and I think we are very lucky to have a fantastic group of players,” he said.
“We were just thinking we need to hold on.
“Fair play to England, they tried to break our defence but our spirit, tactics and heart won us the game.
“I would recommend our players keep their feet on the ground because there is still a major step for them to take. There is more to come, we can still improve our game.”
France started their campaign with a 37-10 win against Italy and backed it up with a thrilling 30-24 win against Ireland – a result that would ultimately prove crucial.
In Round 3, they outclassed Scotland before proving they can win scrappy matches by beating Wales and England – something that will encourage Les Bleus fans everywhere.
“They have learned how to win ugly,” said former France hooker Benjamin Kaysar.
“I think these guys are still learning and they are building. The World Cup is far down the line but they are building in a really great way.”