Rugby: Time matters to Saint-Andre

New France boss Philippe Saint-Andre was confident he could end 100 years of French rugby fragility - but only if he was given more time with his players.

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Saint-Andre called on his country's professional teams and rugby federation to do more to help him conquer the inconsistency that has dogged Les Bleus throughout their entire history.

The former Sale head coach only met his 30-man provisional RBS 6 Nations squad for the first time on Sunday, but must now release them back to their clubs for matches this weekend.

"It's tough," Saint-Andre said ahead of next weekend's tournament opener against Italy.

"We are the only country who have the league Friday and Saturday.

"I will announce the squad of 23 tomorrow [Thursday] but I will cross my fingers that the guys will be okay after the games this weekend.

"We know the other countries have much more time to prepare."

He added: "For the players, it is not easy. Last week, it was Heineken Cup.

"This week is French league and next week it's Six Nations.

"So they play three different competitions in three different weeks.

"We need to improve a few areas to give more times for the players to prepare for the Six Nations.

"The French league, the federation, know this and they've started to speak with each other to try to find a French way to try to be as competitive as possible."

Last year's World Cup witnessed arguably the most extreme inconstancy France have ever produced in a tournament, as the navigated their way through to a final defeat to New Zealand.

"We know that," Saint-Andre said.

"This is French rugby for the last four years - for the last 100 years.

"We can be one day up here and one day near to the floor.

"The biggest challenge - and we spoke with the players about this - is to try to be very consistent."

Despite losing the World Cup final by a single point, the squad was riven by infighting.

"We didn't have any arguments for the last three days!" joked Saint-Andre turning to captain Thierry Dusatoir.

Flanker Dusatoir vowed to repay the faith of the French rugby public, who ultimately got behind the team in the final.

"We were really surprised when we came back to France," he said.

"We didn't get that people were supporting us so much and we were really happy.

"Now we know that French people support us.

"We really want to show them how good we could be."



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