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No slowing down for France

Sun, 18 Nov 2012 06:09
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I have already said that you have to be a decathlete to play rugby
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France coach Philippe Saint-Andre warned his side not to take their foot off the pedal following their 39-22 victory over Argentina.

The 45-year-old former France skipper - who replaced Marc Lievremont after the 8-7 World Cup final defeat by the All Blacks last year - added he had enjoyed himself immensely in the first half which saw four tries scored and plenty of freeflowing rugby summed up by the fact that the first scrum was only a minute from the break.

The French had started slowly and trailed 13-3 before the quarter-of-an-hour mark but then two quickfire tries by Vincent Clerc - taking him onto 34 and into second place in the all-time tryscoring lists for France and two clear of Saint-Andre - turned the match round.

"I am happy that we have been able to put together two successive victories in successive weeks, especially against two southern hemisphere sides (they beat Australia for the first time since 2005 last Saturday)," said Saint-Andre.

"Even more so when one looks at the results and you see that no other country from Europe beat a southern Hemisphere side today.

"We began poorly and lacked sharpness and rapidly were behind but we didn't panic."

Saint-Andre, whose side are on a three match winning streak having beaten the Pumas in the second of their two Test series in the summer, said that to his mind they had apart from the first 15 minutes controlled the game.

"Nicolas Mas asked me whether it was necessary to have a prop anymore as the first scrum wasn't till the 39th minute!" said Saint-Andre.

"In the second half the Argentinians played a lot more with their boot. I still thought that we mastered them in the second half.

"One has to congratulate the players spirit who wanted still to score a fourth try in the dying seconds despite there being no bonus point on offer.

"We also have to slap Vincent Clerc on the back as he has now moved ahead of me to become the second biggest try scorer in French rugby behind Serge Blanco (who has 38)."

Saint-Andre, who cut his coaching teeth initially in England with Gloucester, said the nexus of the side had been born in the summer tour of Argentina.

"I heard that this tour would be needless," he said.

"We took several regulars along like the captain (Pascal Pape), and some young players and we can see that the backbone of the team tonight is that of the last Test against the Pumas in June.

"You have to keep your humility when you see the Welsh who won the Six Nations Grand Slam but have lost their last five Tests ahead of hosting the All Blacks and the Australians.

"We can see that we really have a tightly-knit squad who give everything for each other. However, we must not get big-headed as we have the 'headhunters' (The Samoans) who are coming to the Stade de France next week."

Saint-Andre, who also coached to varying degrees of success Sale, Bourgoin and Toulon, said that he had admired the daring-do of his players especially in the first half.

"I have already said that you have to be a decathlete to play rugby," he said.

"Where I am happy is that we made some daring moves, we played good rugby, and we made some passes.

"In the first-half I really enjoyed myself. Those who love rugby saw ambition and initiative. Even at the end of the match, there was still this spirit and this hunger to score another try.

"When we have this spirit and this hunger then I believe we really can do good things. But we mustn't take our foot off the pedal."

AFP

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