Wednesday 24 January 2018

France's Saint-Andre has no intention to quit

Duncan Bech

PHILIPPE Saint-Andre today distanced himself from suggestions that he will step down as head coach if France finish bottom of the RBS 6 Nations.

Les Bleus, the pre-tournament favourites, have one draw to show for a bitterly disappointing championship following yesterday's stalemate with Ireland and could yet finish with the wooden spoon for the first time since 1999.


Saint-Andre declared in the build-up to the Aviva Stadium that he would "accept responsibility" for France's performance if that worst-case scenario unfolds, but has moved to clarify his meaning.


"I will of course, as is my nature, assume total responsibility and take the blame for the campaign," he said.


"However, I am here till 2015 and I will not be leaving. Quite the contrary.


"I would ask of you not to take three words from a sentence and give them a meaning that is not intended.


"The federation and the committee director gave us a target to prepare for 2015. We will continue to work towards that objective.


"I take the responsibility because I have always done that, I have never tried to shift it on to others in my career.


"Rugby at the highest level is to be a competitor. The more difficult it is the more I like it.


"That is to say that whether there is a defeat, a draw or a victory I will shoulder the responsibility because I do not want to expose my players or staff to danger."


France were impressive during an autumn headlined by a resounding victory over Australia and Saint-Andre believes that created unrealistic expectations.


"You can't murder the players now when in November you made them out to be better than they were," he said.


"However, even in the worst-case scenario they are not as bad as people are saying they are.


"We were always very restrained about where we were, we knew that the margin between victory and defeat is very narrow."

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