France coach Bernard Laporte admits feeling bad about criticising his players after their recent defeat to Ireland which ended all hope of winning the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
In successive games, the reigning Grand Slam champions crashed 25-17 to England and 15-12 to Ireland, severely undermining their standing in World Cup year.
But France's dashing 53-27 win over Italy in Rome on Sunday eased the pain and put a smile back on Laporte's face.
"The feelings I experienced just before the match with Italy were very charged with emotion, probably even stronger than ahead of England or Ireland," Laporte told L'Equipe.
"The truth is that I was hard with my players in Dublin.
"I said things that might have hurt them, I was sincere but on the other hand I felt bad and sad to say that to them.
"But then, minutes before the match started (in Rome on Sunday), we were all in the dressing rooms and I saw them all united and encouraging each other.
"I told Xavier (Gousse, the team's physiotherapist): I know what is going to happen. I did not think that we would score 53 points but I knew that we would win."