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Report in France suggests that Philippe Saint-Andre has been ousted by his players


France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre

Philippe Saint-Andre, the France head coach, may have got more than he bargained for when he called for an “uprising” by his players ahead of the quarter-final against New Zealand.

According to reports in France, Les Bleus have overthrown their coach for the second tournament in succession.

L’obs Sport reports that there is bedlam in their camp with the players “discreetly dismissing” Saint-Andre whom they had lost all respect for after a chequered four years in charge.

It claims that the squad does not view Saint-Andre as a “leader of men” while Serge Blanco, who was brought in to assist the former Sale and Gloucester coach, is criticised as a “destabilising influence”.

There is plenty of precedent for this type of action. Four years ago, Marc Lievremont was effectively ousted by his own squad after the 19-14 defeat to Tonga in the pool stages.

Imanol Harinordoquy, the No 8, later admitted, “After the defeat against Tonga I did not attach too much importance to what Marc said… we had to free ourselves from his supervision.”

Astonishingly, France ended up reaching the final and were unlucky to lose 8-7 to New Zealand. At the 2010 football World Cup, Raymond Domenech was overthrown in a similar fashion by his squad tapping into a deep vein of history when it comes to rebellious tendencies.

If the reports are correct then it would be no surprise if Saint-Andre suffered a similar fate. In fact, L’Equipe, the French sports bible, ran a front-page headline “L’appel a la revolte” (a call to revolt) on Tuesday following their disappointing 24-9 defeat to Ireland at the Millennium Stadium.

A picture later emerged of Yoann Maestri, the lock forward, appearing to shoulder barge Saint-Andre. L’Equipe believes that Maestri along with Pascal Pape and Nicolas Mas possess the seniority to instigate a revolt against Saint-Andre.

 Saint-Andre is already a dead-man walking. He will be replaced at the end of the tournament by Guy Noves, the former Toulouse coach, and only a victory against the All Blacks could redeem a disappointing tenure which has been characterised by a complete lack of consistency in selection and terrible results. Under his watch, France have failed to finish in the top half of the Six Nations in four attempts.

He continually pleaded to be judged on results at the World Cup where he insisted performances would be transformed after their long training camp. Instead, France were bullied off the pitch by Ireland who had to withstand injuries to three key players. As reward for their poor performance, they now face New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday.

You can imagine Steve Hansen, the New Zealand coach, hearing these reports with a deep sense of foreboding. As the All Blacks well know after being knocked out of the last two World Cups on European soil, the French are a dangerous animal at the best of times. In revolt, that threat seems to multiply exponentially.

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