Saint-Andre defiant ahead of RWC

Date published: September 11 2015

Philippe Saint-André has taken several blows to his reputation over the last three years but has now called on France to get behind his side.

Criticism has never been far away for Saint-André since he took over after the 2011 Rugby World Cup, with attacks directed at France's style of play and questionable selections.

Saint-André admitted it had been a difficult period but appears rejuvenated ahead of the tournament, which kicks off for France against Italy next Saturday.

"For three and a half years it's been tough and complicated," Saint-André told Reuters.

"I knew it would be and I accepted it. For three and a half years I donned the bullet-proof vest and I'm still here.

"What I really need now though is that all rugby lovers rally to the cause.

"We're going to England. The English invented the game and this is going to be a hyper-mediatised World Cup with jam-packed stadiums."

Commenting on France's record against New Zealand in the knockout stages, Saint-André would prefer his side to top their group and to face the runners-up of Pool C, tipped to be Argentina.

"It's true that New Zealand don't like playing France in the World Cup but we are sticking to our goal of finishing first in group, by beating Italy, Romania, Canada and above all Ireland, so that we play Argentina afterwards."