Six Nations 2015: Four countries can win tournament – Saint-Andre
Les Bleus head coach believes France face another tough campaign if they are to lift the new trophy as competition hots up
Philippe Saint-Andre believes four nations can win this year’s Six Nations title.
Despite being in contention to win the title on the last day of the 2014 championship along with Ireland and England, France have not lifted the trophy since 2010.
It is very difficult to say who will win the Six Nations…last year we missed a penalty against Ireland and that was the difference between finishing first and fourth.
Worse still, they have not finished higher than fourth in the last three campaigns and it is expected to be another ultra-competitive tournament ahead of the Rugby World Cup later this year.
After Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll retired after lifting the trophy last season, the Six Nations unveiled a new trophy in London today that now recognises Italy as the sixth country in the tournament, and there would be something special about claiming the title this year and putting down a marker for what is to come.
The bookmakers believe that there will be no Grand Slam winner again with reigning champions Ireland installed as favourites with England, France and Wales also in the mix, and Saint-Andre expects another tough competition.
“I think our front five is as strong as England and Ireland, but, as we get closer to the World Cup, it looks like all the countries get closer,” Saint-Andre said.
“It is very difficult to say who will win the Six Nations. Four countries can win the tournament.
“We need to be more precise with our set-piece. Last year we missed a penalty against Ireland and that was the difference between finishing first and fourth.
“It shows how tight things are at the top level.”
France endured an indifferent campaign in 2014, losing 3-0 on their summer tour of Australia before a mixed autumn that saw wins over Fiji and Australia before a surprise defeat to Argentina in their final match.
French society has people from different origins. It is nice to see the team working like this in a good way and and the team is representative of French society.
But regardless of their fortunes on the field, Saint-Andre concedes France’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at the Stade de France in northern Paris will take on added significance after the terrorist attacks in the city earlier this month that left 17 people dead.
More than one million people from across France and wider Europe packed the streets of the French capital in the aftermath to pay tribute to the fallen and the Six Nations will be another outlet for les citoyens français to unite behind Les Bleus.
“I am definitely sure La Marseillaise against Scotland will be very emotional,” he added.
“It was a very, very tough time, but everybody stuck together and demonstrated how proud we are of our country and very proud of our different cultures.
“All the crowd and French public will be 150 per cent behind the French team.
“I am always proud to sing the national anthem.
“French society has people from different origins. It is nice to see the team working like this in a good way and and the team is representative of French society.
“It will be a nice moment to enjoy being together, to show our pride in being French.
“Sport is nice in this way. It allows us to take this moment to share and to be part of the community.”