Saint-Andre: Preparation won the day
Saint-Andre: Preparation won the daySHARE
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has credited the thrilling 26-24 victory over England in Paris on Sunday to the two-week preparation time they were granted.
Les Bleus flew out of the blocks at the Stade de France and romped into a 16-3 lead after 22 minutes thanks to two tries from flying wing Yoann Huget.
Back came England, however, and tries from Mike Brown and Luther Burrell helped the visitors move into a 24-19 lead with the clock ticking down.
France were staring down the barrel of another defeat, having won just two of their matches throughout 2013 and having finished the Six Nations bottom of the pile.
But teenage replacement centre Gael Fickou finished off a superb flowing move for France with three minutes remaining and Maxime Machenaud's conversion sealed the victory.
A relieved Saint-Andre, who was feeling the heat heading into Sunday’s clash, described the win as an evolution rather than a revolution.
“I think this was more of an evolution. Let's give credit where credit is due and thank the French federation and the professional league. If we hadn't had two weeks to prepare for this game, we wouldn't have won,” said Saint-Andre.
“We can see once again that, given the intensity in international rugby, our players really need a true break – five weeks between seasons – and not just a couple of weeks with friendly games starting right away.
“This is the evolution we needed, I know it can be tough on the Top14 clubs not having their international players, but this victory is a direct consequence of the new deal between the federation and the clubs.”
Saint-Andre, however, was wary not to get ahead of himself.
“I wouldn't say this is the birth of a team. We went through rough times in 2013 and got a lot from it, this is also important in the creation of a group and I think we learned a few lessons,” he said.
“We showed amazing spirit, we showed some guts. It had been a while since I had seen smiling faces among the boys, and that's what matters.
“Obviously, there are things to improve, we are well aware of it, we were on the pitch. We know where we want to go.”