France coach Saint-Andre: Pape ban is too severe

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has said that lock Pascal Pape’s 10 week suspension is far too severe and suggested that they could be appealed.

Pape was given a 10 week ban for kneeing Ireland No8 Jamie Heaslip in the back in France’s 18-11 loss to Ireland in their Six Nations clash in Dublin.

Heaslip suffered three fractured vertebrae as a result of the incident and the Six Nations Disciplinary Committee took a very dim view of the 34-year-old former France captain’s actions and said it would have been longer but for his ‘expressions of remorse’.

Saint-Andre, who said the morning after the match he hadn’t seen anything intentional in what Pape had done solely criticising him for being yellow-carded at a critical moment, disagreed with them.

“I find the punishment is very very severe,” said Saint-Andre, speaking as his squad for the Six Nations match with Wales next Saturday gathered together.

“It was his last Six Nations, it is a shame it will finish like that for him and the France team.

“Pascal, and the lawyers from the Federation and Stade Francais (Pape’s club) will reflect on whether to appeal (they have 14 days to decide after receiving written confirmation of the suspension).

“As a coach one is eager to tell him to appeal but if it is to risk a heavier punishment….that is really for the club to decide as it is Stade Francais who pay his wages.”

Saint-Andre, who has been heavily criticised since taking over at the helm after the 2011 World Cup final with the nadir the unwanted wooden spoon in the 2013 Six Nations, said the suspension would not affect the chances of the 59-times capped Pape going to the World Cup, being hosted by England and runs from September 18 to October 31.

“He is a player who knows what it is like to play at the highest level, which is important for a squad,” said Saint-Andre.

“He is also in extremely good physical shape.”

Meanwhile Saint-Andre has called up Stade Francais fly-half Jules Plisson for Pierre Bernard.

Bernard was ruled out after limping off with a knee injury in Bordeaux-Begles’ 28-23 win over Toulon in Top 14 action on Saturday.

Plisson, aged 23, has turned out four times for Les Bleus, making his debut in last year’s Six Nations championship.

France face Wales at the Stade de France needing a win to keep alive their faint hopes of a Six Nations title.

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