Six Nations 2014: Philippe Saint-Andre accepts blame for France’s failings
Six Nations 2014: France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre admits the buck stops with him ahead of their Ireland clash
Philippe Saint-Andre has said the buck stops with him when it comes to France’s failings in the Six Nations this year.
Les Bleus have won three of their four matches this year despite indifferent performances which has led to criticism in the French media.
We’re still dreaming about winning, about scoring 15 tries and that everyone’s in a dream
“There is frustration over the last match. You have to want the ball and to advance,” Saint-Andre said. “What happens on the outside is not important. If I have to be the scapegoat, then no problem. But let the players do their work.”
Late wins over England and Scotland have given Saint-Andre’s squad a slim chance of winning the championship if they can overcome an Ireland side riding the emotional wave of Brian O’Driscoll’s farewell.
With just one defeat by Ireland in Paris in 42 years, history is on Saint-Andre’s side, but it would need a Herculean effort to overcome their inconsistencies and the confidence of Joe Schmidt’s side.
“When you realise how many important players are out injured, there are six, seven, eight, and yet we still see this group improving, picking themselves up and still being in a position to win the Six Nations,” Saint-Andre added.
“We’re still dreaming about winning, about scoring 15 tries and that everyone’s in a dream.
“But seriously, we’re doing a lot better than last year at this point. Then we had three defeats and a draw, now we have three wins.”
The French coach has recalled influential back row forward Louis Picamoles after he was axed for the Scotland match for his attitude against Wales, but it is the inclusion of match-winning teenager Gaël Fickou which has caught the eye.
The 19-year-old Toulouse centre marked his arrival in international rugby came off the bench in the opening match of the championship to score the try to defeat England in Paris.
“He is in form, he is fast,” Saint-Andre said. “We need to see his talent on show from the start.”