France put in their place
France put in their placeSHARE
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said that the gap between his side and the top two in the world is obvious.
The French were competitive in their two home matches against the All Blacks and the Springboks, but came up short in both games which reflects their ranking accurately according to their coach.
"We're not far from them (New Zealand and South Africa) but we're the fifth nation in the world and we're in our place. When we play the best teams we come up just short," he said.
Forwards coach Yannick Bru echoed those statements and admitted that they have some work to do in order to bridge the gap.
"There is still a sum of details that separate us from the best teams in the world," he said.
Captain Thierry Dusautoir said that the defeat by the Springboks had taught them some valuable lessons about themselves.
"After each game we realise there is an extra layer to add," he told reporters after the South Africa defeat.
The loss followed a 26-19 defeat by New Zealand and a 38-18 victory over Tonga, only France's second win of the year.
"We had some physical problems against Tonga but we pulled through, this time we did not," centre Mathieu Bastareaud said.
However, they remain upbeat and fullback Brice Dulin is confident that they can be competitive with the top sides once again.
"Hard work will eventually pay off, we're sure of that. We will not regret all the efforts and the tough moments.
"Are we feeling powerless? No, because we see that we manage to pierce through and to create chances. We just need to correct the little mistakes and stop giving the ball away – because that is what gives them points and makes them win the matches," he explained.
Due to players' club commitments, France will have little time to prepare for their next Test against England, who are third in the world rankings.
"England are ahead of us and they're not there by chance," said Dulin. "They are sure of their strengths, they know how to win important matches."
France, however, have reasons to be optimistic because the November series allowed a few newcomers to start blooming at the highest level, with the likes of wing Sofiane Guitoune and prop Rabah Slimani showing they have what it takes to be part of the squad.
Saint-Andre, who has used 10 different halfback combinations since taking over from Marc Lievremont after the 2011 World Cup Final, could stick to Morgan Parra and Remi Tales after an encouraging series.
"(Scrumhalf) Parra has over 50 caps so we knew what he was capable of," Saint-Andre said. "They've learnt a lot.
"I think Remi's kicking game has been improving and he has been showing he meets all the requirements to play at the highest level."