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Emotional opener for Les Bleus

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre believes his team's RBS 6 Nations encounter with Scotland will give the country a chance to come together following the spate of recent militant attacks.

Seventeen people were killed in France across three days earlier this month after attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police officers and a kosher supermarket.

Les Bleus host Scotland at Stade de France on February 7 in the team's opening game of the tournament, and Saint-Andre expects the fixture to be a "very emotional" occasion.

"I am definitely sure the Marseillaise against Scotland will be very emotional," Saint-Andre said.

"It was a very, very tough time, but everybody stuck together and demonstrated how proud we are of our country and very proud of our different cultures.

"All the crowd and French public will be 150 percent behind the French team."

Saint-Andre continued: "I am always proud to sing the national anthem.

"French society has people from different origins. It is nice to see the team working like this in a good way and and the team is representative of French society.

"It will be a nice moment to enjoy being together, to show our pride in being French.

"Sport is nice in this way. It allows us to take this moment to share and to be part of the community."

France have not won the Six Nations since 2010 and have finished fourth or lower in each of the past three competitions.

Saint-Andre, however, reckons his team are one of four sides capable of lifting the trophy this year.

"I think our front five is as strong as England and Ireland," he said.

"But, as we get closer to the World Cup, it looks like all the countries get closer.

"It is very difficult to say who will win the Six Nations. Four countries can win the tournament.

"We need to be more precise with our set-piece. Last year we missed a penalty against Ireland and that was the difference between finishing first and fourth.

"It shows how tight things are at the top level."


From Belfast Telegraph