Connect to share and comment

RugbyU: Half-time rant prompted turnaround: Saint-Andre

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said a fiery half-time talk to his players had provoked them into the fightback that earned a 13-13 draw from a 10-point deficit in their Six Nations clash with Ireland here on Saturday.

The draw still saw the one time pre-tournament favourites in danger of their first wooden spoon since 1957 as they must beat Scotland in Paris next Saturday if they are to avoid that ignominy.

However, 45-year-old Saint-Andre - whose side are now on a seven match winless run in the Six Nations, equalling the run of the 1926-1927 vintage - said he was proud of the character shown by his players in turning things around.

Normally a placid and outwardly calm figure, Saint-Andre was captured at half-time on camera yelling at his players after they had been outplayed and outfought by an Irish side also under pressure after a poor campaign.

"We need a rebellion in the second-half, we need to score in our strong moments," he shouted at his players.

Having got the response he had so vociferously demanded, Saint-Andre, who arrived with much fanfare after the unpredictable reign of Marc Lievremont had ended following the 8-7 2011 World Cup final defeat by the All Blacks, was somewhat calmer after the match.

"We didn't play very well and Ireland did in the first-half," he said.

"They were difficult climatic conditions but nevertheless we were not good in defence or in the lineouts.

"However, we showed a lot of character to come back in the second-half the way we did after I had a go at the players in the dressingroom.

"It was important how the players reacted to the half-time dressing down.

"The second-half, though, we showed more character, combativity and aggression. I have to compliment the players on the spirit they showed."

Saint-Andre, who guided France to fourth place in his opening Six Nations campaign last year, said he had been pleased overall with his controversial decision to select Frederic Michalak at fly-half.

Michalak had been panned for his previous three performances - starting the last game against England on the bench behind Francois Trinh-Duc - but played the whole match here despite his erratic play frequently being booed by the French supporters.

While he did succeed with the conversion to Louis Picamoles's late try to draw the sides level, he had missed two penalties in the first-half and scrum-half Morgan Parra replaced him in the second-half as the penalty taker.

"In November he succeeded with 20 out of his 22 kicks but look he hasn't stopped playing for the past 15 months," said Saint-Andre.

"You can't be at the top of your game after playing 45 games.

"He showed a lot of character with that conversion. I back him 100%."

Saint-Andre said there was still a cohesion to his planning and selection and it was leading up to the biggest goal of all, to land the World Cup for France for the first time in 2015.

"The glass is half-empty at the moment but there are positives and we are engaged in a process of building towards the 2015 World Cup," he said.

"We are very disappointed with our Six Nations but we have had to replace 70% of the players since the 2011 World Cup final.

"It will take time."

pi/bc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130309/rugbyu-half-time-rant-prompted-turnaround-saint-andre