Saint-André sticks to same Bleus' formula


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The Independent Online

France will build on their recent World Cup campaign to prepare for the Six Nations Championship, Philippe Saint-André said yesterday.

With less than two months before their opening match against Italy, France would have little time to make any major changes, he added.

"We are no magicians, we won't make radical changes in five or six training sessions," said Saint-André, who took over from Marc Lièvremont on 1 December and combines the roles of coach and manager. "We will have to build on the strengths from the World Cup squad: good defence, aggressiveness, discipline," added Saint-André, who confirmed Thierry Dusautoir as team captain.

France, who lost in the World Cup final to the hosts New Zealand in October, entertain Italy on 4 February.

Saint-André, the former Gloucester, Sale and Toulon manager who won 69 caps with France from 1990-97, confirmed that Toulouse's Yannick Bru and Biarritz's Patrice Lagisquet had been named as the forwards and backs coaches respectively. They will be available for France during the Six Nations before being freed by their respective clubs in June.

The former manager Jo Maso, who had been in place since 1995, remains on the selection committee.

One of Saint-André's priorities will be to deal with the Top 14 clubs in a demanding calendar during which league and international matches often clash.

"I know the problem because I have been a club manager before," he said. "We have to be intelligent and talk to each other. On Monday and Tuesday, I will be speaking to all club coaches."

Although the 2015 World Cup is not yet on his priority list, Saint-André wants France to play all three big southern hemisphere nations in the November Tests. "We did not win the World Cup," he said. "Playing three high-level matches in succession helps you get ready [for the World Cup]." But the manager will have to wait until 2013 to play Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in November, as Les Bleus already have games against Australia, Argentina and one of the Pacific Islands team (Tonga, Fiji or Samoa) scheduled for next year.

Saint-André will also be in charge of the defence with Lagisquet after the former defence coach David Ellis's contract was not renewed.

Glasgow's Scotstoun Stadium will host the IRB Sevens World Series in place of Murrayfield next May.

The penultimate tournament in the nine-event series will switch from the SRU headquarters, which has previously been the host, to Scotstoun as Glasgow steps up preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Scotstoun Stadium, home to the Glasgow Warriors team from next season, will see 16 teams from across the world competing on 5 and 6 May, with 15,000 fans expected to attend.

The game of sevens is widely believed to have been invented in the Scottish Border town of Melrose in 1883.