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Saint-Andre: Scotland 6 Nations match is pivotal

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Article Published: Monday 20 February 2012

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre says that this coming weekend's Six Nations clash against Scotland will be pivotal moment in his first tournament as the national boss.

The 44-year-old former France captain, who replaced Marc Lievremont after the French lost 8-7 to New Zealand in last year's World Cup final, takes his side to Edinburgh on the back of a convincing enough 30-12 win over Italy.

However, their second match at home to Ireland ended in a farcical last minute abandonment while the Scots went down to a second successive defeat as Wales overcame them 27-13 following a narrow opening day 13-6 defeat by England.

Saint-Andre, though, refused to be lulled into a false sense of security that his side made up largely of World Cup veterans with a few fresher faces would walk all over their opponents.

"One saw that in the World Cup and then in the Six Nations against England and Wales that Scotland are a team who likle to throw the ball around a lot, keep the ball and create a lot of scoring opportunities," said the former Gloucester, Sale and Toulon coach.

"Alas for them, they didn't take them and they were punished for not doing so.

"For us as well, this match could prove to be a turning point. This will be crucial for in terms of morale and confidence it is always best to put a string of victories together."

Saint-Andre said that the aborted Irish match now gave him an unexpected whole month with the players.

"We can take what we are working on that bit further in both the technical and strategic levels," said Saint-Andre.

"And in terms of the human side it is almost like a World Cup preparation.

"In my role as coach I am going to get to know the players a lot better and also their characters.

"It is a very positive thing to have in one's first season. We are going to have two sessions of two weeks apiece but we will give them a day or a day-and-a-half off in the middle so that they can go home because we have a lot of husbands and fathers.

"As well as giving them some intellectual breathing space, it is also important from a physical level as well."

Saint-Andre admitted that it would take good management in keeping the players fit and fresh for the four matches that lay ahead with a really tough potential Grand Slam decider against Wales as their final match in Cardiff.

"We have four weeks to manage them as best as possible," he said.

"It is vital to work them physically so that there are no 'not so good' moments in the four weeks but also to find times where the players can have time to recuperate.

"It will be very good for the level of morale and workload, but it is imperative to find the right balance of preparation, competition and rest."

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