Philippe Saint-Andre has admitted France cannot afford to repeat the diving antics in the World Cup that earned wing Yoann Huget an official warning in European club action.
Huget was handed an official reprimand from European bosses for “an act contrary to good sportsmanship” in feigning injury in Toulouse’s 35-18 defeat to Bath in January.
Governing body World Rugby have launched a crackdown on diving in the World Cup, which opens with England taking on Fiji at Twickenham on Friday night.
France will launch their Pool D campaign against Italy at Twickenham tomorrow, with Saint-Andre calling on his players to adhere to traditional rugby expectations.
“We had a meeting with all the team managers and the referees,” said Saint-Andre.
“The big picture is that it is rugby not football and we have to respect our sport.
“It is a sport for hooligans played by gentlemen.”
The well-worn “hooligans” versus “gentlemen” line was Saint-Andre’s thinly-veiled warning to Huget and his team-mates that no such antics will be tolerated on Test duty.
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) admonished Huget in a statement following a review of his dive against Bath. Huget apologised for the “inappropriate gesture”, admitting it “did not reflect the values of rugby”.
England’s World Cup-winning hero Jonny Wilkinson backed the decision to make an example of divers, with culprits likely to be sin-binned at the World Cup.
The retired fly-half said: “It’s a funny one.
“I’ve never found myself taking a dive etcetera – I can’t imagine why you would, but also in rugby you get hit.
“The other thing that’s in your mind, is every second, or millisecond you’re on the floor you’re not helpful or doing something positive for your team and that’s why it’s all about getting back onto your feet immediately.”