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Philippe Saint-Andre heeds simulation warning after Yoann Huget incident

Philippe Saint-Andre has admitted France cannot afford to repeat the diving antics in the World Cup that earned wing Yoann Huget an official warning in European club action.

Huget was handed an official reprimand from European bosses for "an act contrary to good sportsmanship" in feigning injury in Toulouse's 35-18 defeat to Bath in January.

Governing body World Rugby have launched a crackdown on diving in the World Cup, which opens with England taking on Fiji at Twickenham on Friday night.

France will launch their Pool D campaign against Italy at Twickenham on Saturday, with Saint-Andre calling on his players to adhere to traditional rugby expectations.

"We had a meeting with all the team managers and the referees," said Saint-Andre.

"The big picture is that it is rugby not football and we have to respect our sport.

"It is a sport for hooligans played by gentlemen."

The well-worn "hooligans" versus "gentlemen" line was Saint-Andre's thinly-veiled warning to Huget and his team-mates that no such antics will be tolerated on Test duty.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) admonished Huget in a statement following a review of his dive against Bath.

Huget apologised for the "inappropriate gesture", admitting it "did not reflect the values of rugby".

On the eve of the World Cup John Jeffrey, World Rugby's match officials selection committee chairman, admitted the clampdown on diving and any kind of simulation.

Jeffrey, a former Scotland flanker, had been quoted in several national newspapers as saying: "There is a culture creeping in - I call it the football culture - of simulation; people appealing to the referee, players - and it has happened a couple of times - diving.

"That is going to be sanctioned very heavily in this tournament. We are the showcase of our rugby event and it's very, very important that we keep our values there and referees have been asked to sanction very heavily on that."

England's World Cup-winning hero Jonny Wilkinson backed the decision to make an example of divers, with culprits likely to be sin-binned at the World Cup.

The retired fly-half told Sky Sports News HQ: "It's a funny one. I've never found myself taking a dive etcetera - I can't imagine why you would, but also in rugby you get hit.

"The other thing that's in your mind, is every second, or millisecond you're on the floor you're not helpful or doing something positive for your team and that's why it's all about getting back onto your feet immediately."

Wilkinson, who was well known to be one of the toughest players in the game, even admitted he had gone to extreme lengths to hide possible injuries from his opponents.

"Even at times when I've had neck injuries and whatever, one of the great messages, and something you have to be careful on is 'get up, get up!'," he said. "Just being in the line - those pains go very quickly - you just get up and move on so the guys aren't doubling up for my lack of being there.

"The idea that you stay down longer, to me, is a funny one and it doesn't really make sense.

"But if people think there's an example of it, then great, but I would never want to stay down; I wouldn't want someone to think they've got a good shot on me - it would be the opposite.

"I'd want to get up no matter how much (it hurt).

"I guess respect and all that needs to be shown and if it has not been shown, then ways we can increase it (can help), but I trust the values of the sport."


From Belfast Telegraph