The main positive for France in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations was the performance of a young cohort of players, but at the more experienced end of the spectrum, full-back Maxime Médard has been enjoying a renaissance.
Still only 32, Médard has been part of the French set-up since 2008 having made his debut at the tender age of 21.
However this year he appeared in the Guinness Six Nations for the first time in three years, starting against both Wales and Italy, and coming off the bench against Scotland and Ireland.
But for injury, Médard might have featured more, missing out against England with a shoulder problem after playing the full 80 minutes in the opener.
Now back at Toulouse, Médard has shown his versatility, capable of playing at full-back or on the wing.
He has spoken in the past of his preference of playing in the No.15 jersey, as he did in the 2011 World Cup final, but having started 26 Tests at full-back, and 21 on the wing, he is clearly comfortable in either.
During this year’s Championship he played at full-back in each game. Now with Toulouse in Europe he switches to the wing.
There he will join France teammate Yoann Huget, scorer of four tries in this year’s Championship, on the other wing, while Springbok Cheslin Kolbe starts at full-back.
While he was best known for his counter-attacking ability when he first came through the ranks, Médard has evolved into a well-rounded full-back.
That was particularly evident during the Championship with his ability to cover the backfield.
Coping with the opposition kicking game has become an increasingly important part of the game, and France were much stronger in that area when Médard was starting.
Add in a couple of try assists for Louis Picamoles, against Wales, and Huget against Italy, and it is clear what Médard brings to the side.
In fact it was his initial break that set up Toulouse teammate Antoine Dupont’s try to open the scoring in Rome on Super Saturday.
Médard has come full circle as one of the most senior members of the French side, as is also the case at Toulouse.
When he first broke through he had to force his way into a team featuring the likes of Vincent Clerc, Cédric Heymans and Clément Poitrenaud.
Now at Toulouse, he has Thomas Ramos, who made his Test bow in the Championship, as well as France Under-20s pair Lucas Tauzin and Matthis Lebel, along with the likes of Huget and Kolbe.
For Médard, that competition is something he welcomes.
He explained: “When I arrived, Gareth Thomas, [Xavier] Garbajosa, Clément Poitrenaud, Vincent Clerc and Cédric Heymans were all here, so I learnt a lot from the competition.
“We’re all educated in that regard at Stade Toulousain, even with the youngsters where there’s plenty of competition. As long as it’s healthy, it’s certainly a good thing. It shows that if a youngster is better, it’s down to me to do whatever it takes to be even better in the next game.
“It’s normal, because you have to take on that role when you join the club and are part of such a strong squad. It’s part of the reason why the atmosphere here is so good. But they’re competition for you.”
Médard appears to have thrived with the added competition, reclaiming a starting role with both club and country.
From a French perspective, his renaissance has come at the perfect time.