Philippe Saint-Andre has decided to tackle head-on the biggest issue of French rugby, deemed insoluble: reconciling clubs and the XV of France. To offer, finally, “the showcase of French rugby,” the means of its ambitions and hope to compete, over time, with the major nations which have given priority to their national team. Continuation and end of our interview with the tricolor manager before the start of the Six Nations on Sunday in Italy.
We used to say that in terms of resources allocated, the France team is not favored over the clubs. The provision of international, club employees, a problem that seems eternal …
What I say, Bernard Laporte said for eight years and Marc Lievremont said for four years. Regarding the availability of players and preparing off World Cup competitions, it has become the world’s tenth largest nation. So does that mean that other nations have gone before us. For the tournament, for example, Italy has recovered its players ten days before us!
In June, place the renegotiation of the agreement between the FFR and the NRL, including the rules governing the provision by international clubs for the France team …
Yes, we have the opportunity to make a real change. And evolution, not only for the France team of St. Andrew for the next three years, but to provide new ways to showcase the French rugby for the next fifteen. If given the opportunity to Team France to become world champion, the impact will be beneficial for everyone, for the federation as for the clubs.
It is perhaps no coincidence that it was three times finalists in the World Cup (1987, 1999, 2011), but that has never been world champions. We need all the French rugby has the means and the means at our 33 “nuggets” to maintain the highest level. You have to imagine something coherent and intelligent our 33 best players. Take the autumn tour. When you have fresh players, mentally and physically, we are able to beat all the nations in the world. So, I’m stubborn and I will fight for the next fifteen years.
Specifically, what do you recommend?
This involves a rearrangement of the calendar. By the number of matches played by international on a season. I also want to fight on the establishment phase of recovery and what I call the “development stages” in which the player can develop technically, physically, rework its ranges regenerate. And this phase of development no longer exists in French rugby for eleven months of competition there. There are things that we want to implement, with the clubs and the players … The player’s health must be at the heart of the debate. There, the group of 33 it was announced, there have been several defections in the space of three days. And, strangely, those who have the most seeds are those that have the most playing time
You remain a little fuzzy …
Already, we can now meet 33 beginning of the course. This is good because you can work in opposition. In addition, one can taste of young players with potential scent of very high level. This is a real breakthrough. We also won a training day by advancing the date of the last day of the Top 14. After what I’d like is that, for example, selected for tour players change their recovery time back in the club. They have four weeks of vacation, and by the fifth week they compete for friendlies … Not. We would like there to be three weeks of vacation, not four, but there are five weeks of “development phase”.
How are you going to accept such a development? Your predecessors are all broken teeth.
(Hésitant.) Ben … I do not want to say that I am a mourner, but I want people to say, the media in particular, that I insist so much on this subject. For a year, my communication in this direction. And I say this even when the team wins France … But I think there is a real awareness. We have a problem in France: our young players do not play enough because there are a lot of foreigners in our top 14 and top 33, playing, doing too much. There is a consistent adaptation to operate. At one point, we must stop saying that the France team is the priority. We must show.
Do you think the clubs can make concessions?
I hope to unite. Yannick Bru and Patrice Lagisquet, we know the problem of clubs. We all driven. When the pressure on the club coaches are known, it is inconsistent with the international calendar. And the international calendar is expected to last a century. It will not change. If the English do not play four tests in November, during which they get 20 million pounds in their crates, their system does not work. In short, we will not make them change their mind about an overhaul of the international calendar. The only way is to sit down at the table and imagine smart financial rules, consistent and certainly in terms of compensation from the Federation to the clubs. But that’s the president of the FFR and Serge Blanco who cares. Let’s say we are working on the case. We have things to offer.
I have to be vague at the moment. Ideally it would not reverse the problem and have international players under contract with the Federation, as do all major nations? In France, it was a big club culture. And this is also what makes the charm of our rugby. However, I repeat, we have to find an adaptation for our 33 best players.
Is it better to get along with Serge Blanco, president of Biarritz Olympique but also tipped to take in the future president of the FFR to pass such reforms?
(He laughs frankly.) I talk a lot with him. He is president of the club. He knows the issue well … But there is still the league. There are other stakeholders. We must take notice of the players as they are at the center of debates. They are the musicians. There is a real awareness in the players’ union, Provale.
If the agreement is not renegotiated as you wish, would you be willing to resign?
For now, this is not news.
But you think about it as a lever in negotiations?
(Hésitant.) There may be other levers … That’s what I say. For now, we worked on development proposals that will be worn by important people in the League, the Federation, the players’ union … But it sure is not by plating two pieces of patch we will move forward.
A few months renegotiating a consensus on? Are you optimistic?
(He chuckles.) For now, uh … We’ll see.
This fight, you had built at the time of taking office?
Yes. I knew that the renegotiation was close. I wish I could say the next coach has to do is focus on the strategy of the game and win the competition. It does not need to make a 110-meter hurdles when other nations run a 100 meter dash. He is in the starting blocks at the same height as the others….