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RugbyU: Saint-Andre not fussed by Blanco role

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre says he is not worried by the fact French Federation vice-president Serge Blanco has decided to take a keener interest in the affairs of the national side.

Blanco, a flamboyant fullback and one of France's greatest players with 38 tries in 93 test appearances, will Saint-Andre said lighten his workload especially when it comes to rugby politics and dealing with the clubs.

"It won't be too bad a thing to have someone who can take off my hands certain things like the convention (an agreement between the league and the federation over the availability of international players which Blanco negotiated in 2013), and relations with the clubs," said Saint-Andre.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the women's rugby World Cup at the French national rugby centre in Marcoussis.

Blanco, who is also president of relegated Top 14 side Biarritz, announced over a week ago in French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique that he would be taking a far keener and closer interest in the national team which has lost five and won three of its matches this year following a similarly disappointing campaign in 2013.

"I am there to help the people we choose either as players or coaches," he said.

Saint-Andre, who was a popular choice when he replaced Marc Lievremont after the French lost 8-7 to New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup final, along with his assistants Yannick Bru and Patrice Lagisquet met with Blanco briefly at Marcoussis on Tuesday.

"Serge had a board meeting here, and I was working with Yannick and Patrice, so we had a coffee together and then he had to leave," said Saint-Andre.

Saint-Andre, who established his coaching credentials at two English clubs Sale and Gloucester and also in France with Bourgoin and Toulon, said he had often had to deal with the political side because nobody else was willing to.

However, the 47-year-old former France wing and captain -- who has constantly used the Top 14 clubs as scapegoats for his poor record complaining so many foreigners play instead of French talent making his selection more problematic -- refused to elaborate on what exact role Blanco would play.

"I have nothing to say on the subject. We will see," he said tersely.

Saint-Andre will get his players together for a three day training camp at the end of September while the first of their autumn tests is against Fiji in Marseille on November 8.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140805/rugbyu-saint-andre-not-fussed-blanco-role