PSA: ‘Our confidence is high’

Date published: August 24 2015

France head coach Philippe Saint-André believes the side have made huge strides in recent weeks ahead of the World Cup.

The length of the Top 14 season and restricted time with his players in training has been a sore point for Saint-André throughout his time in charge.

However, preparing for the Rugby World Cup has been different with Saint-André and his coaching staff getting to spend extended time with the squad during their training camps.

Les Bleus were convincing winners against England in Paris last weekend and while Saint-André refused to get ahead of himself, he couldn't ignore the progress France have made.

“This is our first proper pre-season together and you can see that these guys are proper competitors,” said Saint-André.

“The improvement has been huge. Our confidence is high and our spirit is good.

"Remember though, this is but one match. The tournament has not started yet. We saw what progress can be made with seven weeks of hard work. But this is not an end in itself. But again, we are where we want to be. We will not get carried away."

As for the match itself, Saint-André was pleased with how France won the contest at the breakdown and got the better of England's quick defence.

"It was a match with a lot of intensity and that's good for the confidence of this group," he said.

"We were able to win this arm wrestle, even if we wobbled in the last 10 minutes.  We were particularly efficient in the breakdown battle.

"We know the quality of England in this area of play and we were very efficient, it is reassuring but we must further improve our physical condition because the last ten minutes were difficult.

"We perfomed very well, which is reassuring. Defensively, were held our structure for 70 minutes. We scored a great try. 

"We had two more chances in the first half if we made one more pass and an overlap with Damien Chouly second half. 

"We know that the English defence comes up up faster that any other in the world. It was important to make passes faced with such intensity.

The return of several players from the end of the Six Nations hinted that France had turned out their strongest side last Saturday. Saint-André however wouldn't be drawn on whether the XV that won at the Stade de France was necessarily his first choice.

"For three and a half years, I've been told that I don't have a first-choice XV, so I'll just carry on. We know where we are going," he said.

"I'm happy about the state of mind of every player, even last week."