France Six Nations Rugby
France coach Fabien Galthie believes his team's solidarity and self-belief helped them hold off England's fightback in a convincing 24-17 victory in their Six Nations opener on Sunday.
The new-look French side confounded expectations in style.
Blanking England in the first half for the first time in the championship since 1988 was a remarkable achievement.
Les Bleus led 24-0 before the visitors rallied and narrowed the gap with two tries converted by Owen Farrell, who was left to salvage a bonus point with a stoppage-time penalty.
England coach Eddie Jones had bragged that the fledgling France side would buckle under his side's "brutality."
After all, England reached the World Cup final and Galthie is completely rebuilding.
Instead, France stunned England with their aggression, roared on by a Stade de France crowd hardly expecting this from a squad featuring nine players aged 23 or younger and two debutants.
"The players won the game, their solidarity won the game," Galthie said after his first match as national team coach.
"We reversed the situation and scored three tries against England, in the rain.
"When England started to come back on the scoreboard, there was an arm-wrestling contest and we won it, our defence won it."
France started the Six Nations with a squad featuring only one player over 30 and an average of 15 caps per player, but it did not show at the Stade de France.
Galthie said all the detailed work by staff and players paid off.
"We're in a very positive state," said Galthie after France underlined their credentials in a Six Nations tournament they have not won since 2010.
"It's a victory for all the little details put in place and worked on by the coaching staff over the last couple of months."
He explained that the team's boldness, personified by risk-taking halfback Antoine Dupoint, was also rewarded.
"Our team is very young, in terms of age and in terms of experience, but we were not scared of making mistakes, we did not think we could be wrong," Galthie said.
It was a brutal reality check for Jones, who must pick his dejected players up for Saturday's trip to face Scotland at Murrayfield.
France next face Italy at the Stade de France.
"Who do France play next? Italy? Good luck (to them)," England coach Eddie Jones said with a grin.
Jones was at pains to concentrate on how his side managed to pull themselves back into contention.
"I don't think we would have seen the response we got in the second half if we had a mental hangover," he said.
"It was one of those games where France played well, I think we should be giving France credit."