Their reign as RBS 6 Nations champions may have come to an end, but France coach Bernard Laporte is full of optimism for what the future holds for Les Bleus.
France put themselves in with a chance of retaining their title with a comprehensive 56-13 thrashing of Italy on Saturday, but Wales' victory over Ireland meant the RBS 6 Nations trophy had found itself a new home in Cardiff.
But Laporte, who has drafted in a host of new faces in recent months, believes he has seen enough potential from his young side to feel hopeful about where France go from now.
"The emergence of all the young players is definitely one of the most positive things to point out in this year's event," said Laporte.
Of the newcomers, 21-year-old Benoit Baby made a starring debut against Ireland last weekend, Perpignan's David Marty stepped in to make a similarly brilliant first appearance, scoring two tries in the 56-13 triumph in Rome.
The likes of Julien Laharrague, Gregory Lamboley and Yannick Nyanga have also shone since arriving on the international stage.
"They have brought enthusiasm and some sort of aptitude which has benefited the whole team a lot," Laporte added.
"The way they integrated into the group was very interesting and full of promise."
Laporte was especially pleased with the way his team succeeded in their aim to beat Italy by at least 42 points - a winning margin that would have seen them win the championship if the result between Wales and Ireland had gone their way.
"Of course I am happy and also proud of my team because we reached the objective of beating the Italians with the necessary score," said Laporte.
"But there is still a lot of work to complete until the 2007 World Cup. The road will be long."
France captain Fabien Pelous was also full of praise for his team after they withstood a physical Italy outfit to record their sixth successive Six Nations win over the Azzurri.
The Toulouse lock, who has faced Italy eight times in his 101 appearances for France, said: "I have often played against the Italians but they have never shown such aggressiveness.
France's next international commitments will be on their summer tour to South Africa and Australia, and Laporte has suggested he could take a 30-man squad instead of the 22 as originally planned as he seeks to blood more youngsters before the World Cup, which will be played on French soil.
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