France had to dig as deep as they could go to come away with victory over Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday according to coach Fabien Galthié.
Les Bleus found themselves ten points down and reduced to 14 men heading into the final stages, down but not quite out.
Two late tries, first from the captain Charles Ollivon who had shifted into the second row, and then another in the 82nd minute from Brice Dulin allowed them to rip the victory from Wales’ grasp.
Their 32-30 success denied Wales the Grand Slam and keeps the title in the balance, with Galthié delighted but not surprised to see his players come through.
He said: “I don’t know if you can measure character. Perhaps it is measured by the result, by the impression people get watching the end of the game. From my perspective, I wasn’t surprised by my players. Against Wales they dug deep and gave everything they had in them.”
Of the teams, it is Wales who have made strong finishes their trademark, coming from behind to beat Ireland and Scotland, while their final quarter against England turned a tied match into a big win.
Here though, it was France, who have traditionally struggled to close out matches, who came up trumps at the death, with Galthié using a boxing analogy to explain his view of what happened.
Galthié added: “At half-time it was level. We had played a little wide in defence, we struggled to impose our movement.
“This Welsh team, World Cup semi-finalists, Grand Slam champions in 2019, they are very strong. Usually they box for 12 rounds, but here, they let us box the final round. They stopped in the 11th.”
Overall though, the overriding emotion for France was one of unadulterated joy.
Galthié added: “It’s joy without limits. It’s a swimming pool of joy.”