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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 21 October 2020

Saint-André admits to shame as his tenure ends in All Blacks hammering

The former Toulon boss will be replaced by Guy Noves.

Sean Farrell reports from the Millennium Stadium

OUTGOING FRANCE HEAD coach Philippe Saint-André admitted there was a certain ‘shame’ in tonight’s 62 – 13 World Cup quarter-final loss to New Zealand.

Phillipe Saint-Andre Saint-André has been in charge for four disastrous years. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

However, for the most part the former fullback sat at the top table with a wry smile and attempted to explain away the defeat and four years of French failure.

“I accept my responsibilities. I’ve taken a lot of blows over four years and I’m ready to take more,” said Saint-Andre with a rare hint of contrition in his words.

“I’ve had some strong moments with the players and the staff. I think the players will stand up again and will keep fighting for France.”

With French fans booing and whistling from the stands of a diversely populated Millennium Stadium, Saint-Andre was asked if he felt shame. Perhaps not only for tonight’s defeat, but also after a four-year period that has brought France three fourth-place finishes and a wooden spoon in the Six Nations.

As a coach yes. It is very difficult,” he said, but was soon pointing at the difficulty of having so little time to coach his team outside of the World Cup training window afforded him since July.

“To be honest, you’d rather be cheered than booed. But I’m mostly disappointed for the players. We can’t say that they did not give it all, but even at the end of the first half we were almost there and then we conceded another try.

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“Several times we went through (on line-breaks), but there were six All Blacks around them.”

Morgan Parra dejected Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We cannot lie to ourselves. We did reach the quarter-final, so we are between the fifth and eighth rank (in the tournament). For the past three years, we’ve been between fifth and eighth (in World Rugby rankings).”

Saint Andre began his post-match performance by praising New Zealand, saying that, in order to stand a chance against the side who beat them by such a fine margin in Auckland four years ago they “had to make them doubt” themselves. Which clearly did not happen.

It’s a game and you have to use your assets. We tried  lot of things, but we lost 80% of the contest.

“On turnovers they were extremely reactive, much faster than us. We have good players, but New Zealand have a high quality reactivity and speed in defence.

“We worked a lot over the past five or six years on the basics.”

He added: ”Today was the last match of players who have given a lot to French rugby, but there is a new generation at this world cup who will bring victories in future.” 

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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