We need to give the French public a good France team – Shaun Edwards
Shaun Edwards wants France to give the nation a team they can be proud of after taking another step towards possible Grand Slam glory.
A first Six Nations title and clean sweep since 2010 is in sight for Les Bleus following their thrilling 27-23 victory over Wales.
Wins against Scotland at Murrayfield and Ireland in Paris next month would see France crowned Six Nations champions.
It would also secure another significant entry in Edwards’ packed career portfolio – back-to-back Grand Slams – after Wales’ triumph last season.
Edwards made one of the few wrong turns on a memorable day for French rugby, admitting that he briefly headed towards the Wales dressing room on his arrival at the Principality Stadium.
It was understandable, given his 12-year stint with Wales that produced four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-final appearances.
But France are now prospering from his masterful defence coaching that again came to the fore as Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a win on Welsh soil.
“Everyone was telling me ‘remember to go in the right dressing room’! and, honestly, I took one step towards the Welsh one and then I remembered and returned,” Edwards said.
“It was a fantastic advert for the game and the Six Nations. It was quite an epic encounter.
“The impression I’ve had is the French public – and I think, actually – that the whole rugby public are crying out for a good French team.
“Definitely the French people want a team to be proud of, and hopefully over the next couple of years maybe we can provide that.
“The attitude has been first class. They (French players) are really buying into how I want them to defend.
“And it’s not just that – it’s the style of play as well. French teams in the past maybe overplayed in their own half, and it is mixing that French flair with some structured rugby.
“We are slowly getting there. There are still some strides to take, but we are going in the right direction.”
Edwards’ trademark surfaced just before half-time when France repelled wave after wave of Welsh attacks close to their own line, meaning they took an eight-point lead into the interval.
“I honestly believe if they had scored there, Wales would have won the game,” Edwards added. “It was tough defence, but they did well.
“All the credit goes to the players because they dug really deep, and they had to. They were playing the (Six Nations) champions.
“You’ve got to remember this team we played, they have lost two (Six Nations) games in two years. We were playing a high-quality opponent on their own ground, so we had to do something special.
“What I did do was show them the defence from the World Cup they (French players) were doing.
“They were incorporating Wales-style defence at the tournament, and I said ‘this is how good you can be’, instead of telling them how bad they can be. I showed them some really positive things, and thankfully they have continued in that vein.”
Scotland are next up for France on March 8 – Les Blues have lost on their last three trips to Edinburgh – and Edwards has underlined the game’s degree of difficulty.
“Scotland last year was the toughest game of the whole Six Nations for Wales,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed with Scotland so far.
“We have to prepare for that and then we have a six-day turnaround for Ireland, which is difficult.”