France

Saint-Andre: All the pressure on Wales

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 00:00
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All the pressure will be on Grand Slam-seeking Wales when they meet France in their final Six Nations match on Saturday, French coach Philippe Saint-Andre said.

Wales have so far beaten Ireland (23-21), Scotland (27-13), England (19-12) and Italy (24-3), and need a victory over Les Bleus to seal a third Grand Slam in eight seasons after previous successes in 2008 and 2005.

France, however, have failed to fire in this Six Nations, managing wins over Italy and Scotland, but only a 17-17 draw against Ireland and a narrow 24-22 loss to England last week.

"Wales have been playing super rugby since the World Cup," said Saint-Andre. "They're very confident and the big favourites for the Grand Slam.

"I've been very disappointed with our last couple of games. We've been in control of possession and territory, but one interception against Ireland and two turnovers against England left us with a draw and a loss.

"I'm unhappy because it's not enough, but there's no pressure on us, the pressure's all on Wales."

Saint-Andre added: "It's more important for Wales to win than France.

"The Welsh team are very good, confident and young. We'll go out there simply to try to play our best game of the Six Nations."

Motivation, he added, was not needed. "You represent your sport and your team, in Cardiff against a home side that has an opportunity for the Grand Slam and get revenge for the World Cup semi-final."

Captain Thierry Dusautoir, one of the solid mainstays of the France team in the back row, said that the side was still coming to grips with the new system and gameplans put in place by Saint-Andre.

The former Sale and Gloucester coach took over from Marc Lievremont after last year's World Cup, where France beat Wales in the semi-final before losing to New Zealand in the final.

"It takes a bit of time to get used to it," said Dusautoir. "We have a new coach and a new system, but Wales have the same team as they had in the World Cup with the same staff.

"We can't win the Six Nations this year but we want to validate all the work we've done over the last few weeks."

Saint-Andre played down any polemic about having requested that the retractable roof of the Millennium Stadium remain open, with possible showers forecast, saying it was to do with reception for a new GPS tracking system used to monitor the players.

"At the end of the day, there's a match to play," the former France winger said. "No matter whether it's raining or sunny, it's just a rugby match."

AFP

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