belfasttelegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Saint-Andre fears for French rugby

Philippe Saint-Andre wants the French to model the English approach to overseas players in domestic rugby

Philippe Saint-Andre issued a warning over the future of French rugby after Les Bleus crashed to a 23-13 RBS 6 Nations defeat to England at Twickenham.

The French Top 14 now attracts a flood of overseas imports in key positions, and the former Gloucester and Sale boss looks jealously at the strides English rugby has taken following an agreement between the clubs and the Rugby Football Union.

"Fair play to English rugby. Seven or eight years ago they had a lot of overseas players in the English league and they had a change of politics," Saint-Andre said. "And I think they were completely spot-on. For us, we have had 12 or 15 years and we still haven't changed it."

He added: "I think it will be worse and worse because next year, (Jonathan) Sexton will arrive and three or four other overseas fly-halves will arrive.

"We have some positions - tighthead, fly-half, wing, full-back - that will maybe next year be 90 per cent overseas players.

"So we need to be careful about the future of French rugby. I said this in November. It is better to say this when you win.

"It is not an excuse about this loss. I have worked in England and I have worked in France and I think you need to congratulate English rugby for the last eight years.

"Now you have 50 or 60 young kids of 22, 23 or 24 doing very well for England."

The RFU has implemented an English Qualified Player scheme, which financially rewards clubs who field players eligible for the national team.

As a result, the number of young English players emerging in the Aviva Premiership is rising and the pool of talent available to head coach Stuart Lancaster increasing.

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