Claassen: My heart is French

Sun, 17 Feb 2013 11:11
Large wynand claassen630 Large philippe saint andre   jo m

South African-born Antonie Claassen insists that his heart belongs to the French after being called up to the France squad.

South African-born Antonie Claassen insisted that despite criticism of his being selected for France's squad for the Six Nations match with England, his heart belonged to the French.

The 28-year-old flank, who moved to France in 2007, first playing for Brive before moving to Castres, was a surprise pick by coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Monday.

However, Saint-Andre, desperate to get France off the mark after two defeats, against Italy and France, and stave off talk about a first wooden spoon for the French since 1957, opted for the highly-rated South African.

"I let it slide," said Claassen about the criticism that greeted his selection, the first foreign-born player to be named in a French squad since centre Brian Liebenberg in 2003.

"I tried not to read too much of the press this week. Of course it puts a bit more pressure on me, that is normal.

"But I received plenty of messages, on Facebook, Twitter or my mobile phone from France and South Africa. I understand that it gets people talking.

“Yes, I am South African but my heart is here and I am going to give everything for the country, I am going to play to my limits."

The son of former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen said that he had received a gentle ribbing over how he was going to address the French national anthem.

"The Marseillaise? I know it by heart, don't worry. I was the subject of teasing in the Castres changing room because of that. I don't know who, but someone stuck the words onto my locker. It made me laugh."

Claassen said that his call-up was still sinking in.

"I am very proud. It is an honour. It is extraordinary to be here. It was a pretty crazy week. When I arrived in France, it wasn't for the money or the contract.

"It was just to discover the country, to play here. It is a huge day, five-and-a-half years after my arrival in France, I find myself in the French squad.

"When he [Philippe Saint-Andre] told me that I was in the 23 I said that I was ready.

"I still do not believe it, it is magnificent. You always dreams of this day but I never thought it would arrive so quickly. Now it is for me to do the job."

AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 30 September 2016
Golden Lions v Sharks 15h00 Johannesburg
EP Kings v Pumas 16h00 Nelspruit
Western Province v Boland 17h10 Cape Town
Dragons v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Rodney Parade
Connacht v Edinburgh 18h35 Sportsground
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs 18h45 Franklin's Gardens
Bristol v Saracens 18h45 Ashton Gate
Sat, 01 October 2016
Free State Cheetahs v Griquas 12h00 Bloemfontein
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers 13h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
South Africa v Australia 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Munster v Zebre 16h00 Thomond Park
Ulster v Ospreys 17h30 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Leinster 18h35 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Cardiff Blues v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Stadio Monigo
Sun, 02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand 22h10 Ascoli Piceno
Wasps v Harlequins 13h30 Ricoh Arena
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons 14h00 Sixways
Tue, 04 October 2016
Edinburgh v Ulster 19h35 BT Murrayfield
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 5 0 132 10
Wales 5 3 1 1 7
Ireland 5 2 1 2 5
Scotland 5 2 0 3 4
France 5 2 0 3 4
Italy 5 0 0 5 0