Saint-André baffled by the judgement of Joubert



When Philippe Saint-André said France "lost their lucidity and precision after 60 minutes and with it the game," he was in part criticising himself: the coach made his key substitution decisions either side of the hour mark, and they all went wonky on him. "I expected more from the players I sent on," he admitted. "That is true."

But Saint-André said other things, some in public and others in private, that opened up a whole new front in the whys and wherefores debate. He made it abundantly clear that the French lost something else during the course of events at Twickenham: namely, the last vestiges of their faith in Craig Joubert, the South African referee.

It was Joubert who left Les Bleus, then coached by Marc Lièvremont, in a state of advanced apoplexy over his handling of the World Cup final against New Zealand in November 2011. It was Joubert who flummoxed them with his decisions during the Six Nations match with Wales in Cardiff last season – a game the home side just about won, thereby completing a Grand Slam into the bargain. His performance on Saturday – not just his misreading of the confusing events leading to England's vital second-half try but also his general view of who was doing what to whom at scrum and breakdown – infuriated the Tricolores once more.

"We were penalised a lot, a lot, a lot," Saint-André complained, "and I don't know why. You have only to look at the way the England try was scored. I don't understand how a referee could accept it. If he didn't see exactly what happened, there are two touch judges on the line for him to consult. And in the tackle area? There were things that confused me. We had guys on the field who were fantastic at contesting the ball, but sometimes you are left wondering whether you need such people if they are not allowed to do what they are good at doing."

Saint-André could not say whether he would discuss Joubert's refereeing with the International Rugby Board. "I don't want people to think I am making excuses, so it is better to raise issues when you are winning," he said. "While we played well and were competitive for three-quarters of the game, we still lost and that is our fault – my fault. But it is frustrating to leave here not knowing why some things were decided in the way they were."

Joubert was not entirely one-sided in his miscalculations: he moved in mysterious ways throughout the encounter, performing very few wonders in the process. But even the England camp conceded they were lucky to see Tuilagi's try ratified and as the French were at their usual disadvantage on the language front – shamefully, few international officials show the slightest inclination to discuss matters with them in their own tongue – it was difficult not to sympathise with Saint-André.


There was another concern for the coach. Not for the first time of late, he bemoaned the ever-increasing volume of overseas players holding down starting places in the domestic Top 14 league. "We have very few outside-halves as it is, and now Jonathan Sexton [the Ireland No 10] and three or four others are coming to France," he said. "We have to be very careful with our league. We have to leave a little space for some French players."

It was a waspish comment from a coach in a waspish mood. Saint-André, a familiar figure to followers of English club rugby after productive spells with Gloucester and Sale, quietly acknowledged that his charges had performed at far higher levels than in their recent defeats by Italy and France, but that fact did not even begin to lighten his gloom. As one respected chronicler of the French game said as the coach headed for the door: "It is not appropriate to throw confetti at the cemetery gate."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas