Saint-André baffled by the judgement of Joubert

 

Twickenham

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."

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
books
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Sport
sport
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine