Rugby-Ibanez confident France players will grow after Australia series

·2-min read
Six Nations Championship - France v Wales

(Reuters) - France's inexperienced rugby Test squad will leave Australia having suffered a last-gasp series defeat, but manager Raphael Ibanez believes the lessons learned will give the country a boost ahead of their hosting of the 2023 World Cup.

Fabien Galthie's team only narrowly lost the series against the Wallabies late in the third Test and eyes are already being turned towards the World Cup finals in two years' time.

Noah Lolesio's 78th minute penalty gave Australia a 33-30 win in Brisbane on Saturday to allow the home side to claim a 2-1 series victory at the end of an epic contest.

"What is extremely positive is the spirit displayed by the whole group,” said Ibanez.

"A lot of players came to the test environment for the first time four weeks ago.

"They probably had a lot of questions about what to expect here in Australia. We had to adapt to the conditions, to the health protocols. We had to digest it all as a team."

The French lost the opening Test in Brisbane by a two-point margin before storming back to claim the second meeting between the teams in Melbourne last Tuesday.

That set the series up for a rousing finale, which the Australians won despite playing most of the game with 14 men following Marika Koroibete's early red card.

Twenty-two of the 42-man squad selected to travel to Australia were uncapped prior to the tour, leaving Ibanez confident the French will reap the benefits in the future.

"The players have hit some very high levels here," he said. "All the matches had dramatic finishes and they showed great emotional maturity.

"I am convinced that this experience will allow our players to grow.

"This tour is halfway between two World Cups. In this sense, it will be extremely valuable for the future."

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Kim Coghill)