Saint-Andre steps up France World Cup training

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre has stepped up preparations for the
2015 Rugby World Cup by putting his 36-man squad through their paces at a training
camp in Tignes.

Under coach Saint-Andre have failed to reach the level expected over the last
four years and his successor has already been appointed and will take over after
the Rugby World Cup.

Having failed to match expectation in recent years few are expecting anything
spectacular from France in this year’s world cup despite them reaching the final
in 2011.

Saint-Andre is banking on his team catching their opposition by “surprise”
at the world cup which starts in September.

The French players will indulge in rigorous training sessions predominantly
based on physical conditioning with just 30% on rugby skills, but it seems that
they will be rewarded with plenty of downtime as well.

“There will be 48 hours of non-sporting activities where we will be together,
there will be no phones and more collective cohesion,” added Saint-Andre.

France play two warm-up matches against old foes England – at Twickenham (August
15) and at Stade de France (August 22) before a final pre-World Cup outing against
Scotland, also at Stade de France (September 5).

The former Clermont wing has his sights set on France’s Pool D curtain-raiser
against Six Nations rivals Italy: “After both tests against England, we
get back on the physical training and sharpening our rugby level to get fully
fit for the opening game against Italy,” said Saint-Andre.

The 48-year-old also spoke of the players being “motivated by a goal”
as France aim to become just the second northern hemisphere side after England
in 2003 to win the tournament.

After the tests against Stuart Lancaster’s England, Saint-Andre has the task
of trimming his squad down from 36 to 31 players by the deadline on August 31.

Saint-Andre, a former Gloucester and Sale Sharks head coach, has been widely
criticised during his tenure, with France failing to finish higher than fourth
in each Six Nations campaign under Saint-Andre’s tutelage.

He will be replaced by former Toulouse head coach Guy Noves – winner of ten
Top 14 titles and four European Cups – after the World Cup.

France are in World Cup Pool D alongside Ireland, Italy, Canada and Romania.

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