Wales 16 France 21

Scott Johnson warned that whoever fills the vacant position of Wales head coach will need to be tougher than Braveheart.

The Welsh Rugby Union have launched a worldwide search for Mike Ruddock's permanent replacement and Johnson's comments are the latest indication that he will not be on the final shortlist.

He guided Wales through their last three Six Nations Championship matches in a caretaker capacity, but the Australian has pressing family issues at home where he has also been offered a coaching role with the Wallabies.

Johnson informed the players of his plans after this rousing display in defeat and a public announcement is expected this week, possibly as early as today.

The decision on a new head coach will be made by a five-member WRU panel who hope to have their man in place by the end of April, allowing him two months to prepare for the summer tour of Argentina.

After spending four years working as Wales skills coach, Johnson said: "Wales is a different place to work and everyone knows their rugby, supposedly. There are more coaches and selectors per head of population than anywhere else in the world.

"Whoever comes in will have to wear a heavy coat of armour on their back and make sure they don't let the knives stick in. Look at my back - it's so bloodstained. Even Braveheart didn't have as many bloodstains as I've got!"

Despite those views, Johnson has stated repeatedly that, family issues aside, he would like to stay in Wales until next year's World Cup. He was not prepared to make any public statements on his future during the Six Nations but the WRU can expect a confirmation call at some time this week.

Johnson still talks with great pride about the challenges that lie ahead for this Welsh squad.

He believes Wales can reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1987 and, when they produce a performance like this one, that confidence is not misplaced.

Without 11 key players, including eight Lions, Wales outplayed France and were undone only eight minutes from time by a flash of brilliance by maverick fly-half Frederic Michalak, whose chip created the crucial try for Florian Fritz.

But it was a positive end to a miserable title defence, one ravaged by injuries and controversy.

Wales had one win and one draw in five matches. Only Scotland's late victory over Italy in Rome ensured Wales did not become the first team in Six Nations history to slide from grand slam champions to wooden spoon claimants.

A superb try by Hal Luscombe and eight points from the boot of fly-half Stephen Jones earned Wales a deserved 13-6 half-time lead.

France came out stronger after the interval and although Dimitri Szarzewski burrowed over in the corner, Wales retained their lead until the 72nd minute.

But Fritz's converted try finally edged France in front for the first time and Jean-Baptise Elissalde sealed the win with a late penalty.

Johnson said: "We won everywhere but on the scoreboard and that happens sometimes in rugby. It was disappointing not to get the result, but it wasn't due to the lack of effort and commitment."