Saint Andre looking to finish on a high in Top14

Philippe Saint-Andre has been engaged in a war of words with Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal this week nevertheless France’s next coach wants to end his tenure at the Top 14 club in winning style against Bordeaux-Begles on Friday.

The 44-year-old former France wing – capped 68 times – has reacted furiously to Boudjellal’s accusations of traitorous behaviour in his actively seeking to replace Marc Lievremont as the national coach after the World Cup comes to an end.

Saint-Andre – who made his name as a coach mainly with English sides Gloucester and Sale – is proud enough of what he has achieved at the big spending side that the last thing he would like is to leave it hovering over the relegation zone albeit at an early stage of the season.

Defeat also to newboys Bordeaux-Begles would also be somewhat of an embarrassment and leave his replacement, former France coach Bernard Laporte, with quite a job to do in terms of rebuilding morale even though they will be considerably strengthened come the end of the World Cup by the return of those players involved.

However, the frank speaking Saint Andre – who has not delivered a trophy in his two years there but who did guide them to their first appearance in the European Cup – would not let Boudjellal’s accusations ride.

“This word (traitorous) is not part of my vocabulary, my make-up if you will,” he told the provincial newspaper ‘Var Matin’.

“I have never cheated nor lied in my life. I never lobbied the five people responsible for selecting the national coach. These claims are totally unacceptable.”

Saint-Andre, who did concede that Boudjellal had raised the club from the ashes with his money earned from his comic book empire, said that despite those differences he owed it to the Toulon fans to deliver them a parting victory.

“These moments I have spent here will stay with me for the rest of my life,” he said.

“The fans, the atmosphere have been unforgettable and it would indeed be nice to leave them with a memory of me as having won my final match in charge.”

Bordeaux-Begles will be no pushover as unlike fellow Top 14 newboys Lyon they have at least won one of their first three matches and are just two points behind.

Recently-arrived New Zealand prop Hakiro Forbes should put in an appearance from the replacements bench while the trio of Matthew Clarkin, Justin Purll and Blair Connor look set to start after being rested for last weekend’s 34-6 defeat by 2010 champions Clermont.

Clermont for their part have made a start beyond their wildest dreams winning all three of their matches to top the table despite missing such influential players as France duo Morgan Parra and Aurelien Rougerie.

However, their credentials will be sorely tested in Saturday’s sole match when they visit second-placed Racing-Metro, especially as they lost classy fullback Anthony Floch for two to three months on Wednesday with a groin injury.

Racing-Metro will be looking to bounce back from last Saturday’s 41-36 defeat by champions Toulouse but fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski may well not start given the remarks made by sporting director Pierre Berbizier after he came off early because he was tired against Toulouse.

“It wasn’t his coming off that hurt us it was when he was on the pitch that did.”

Friday (kick-offs 1800 GMT unless stated)

Bordeaux-Begles v Toulon,
Brive v Lyon OU,
Castres v Agen,
Stade Francais v Bayonne,
Perpignan v Montpellier, (1845)
Toulouse v Biarritz


(1400) Racing-Metro v Clermont

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