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Victory critical to Les Bleus

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre insists the post-2011 World Cup rebuilding phase is over as he targets a critical RBS 6 Nations victory over England on Saturday.

Les Bleus, struggling from the number of overseas players competing in their domestic league, have won only two of their last 11 matches and finished last season's Championship bottom of the table.

Saint-Andre insists that while there has been sympathy for France as they seek to establish a settled line-up, it will soon run out unless they start winning.

"This match is huge for us because we need to start the Six Nations with a win," Saint-Andre said.

"England performed well last year, while 2013 was very, very disappointing for us. But we knew it would be difficult with so many new players.

"The French public love the French team. They understand. But they also want success, so it's time for us to win some games.

"And we always say 'if you beat England then your international season is not so bad'. So it's huge for us."

France have won the Six Nations in each year after the last four British and Irish Lions tours, but Saint-Andre insists the Top 14 demands even more of his own players.

"I hope that it will be the same this year as in the previous four times," he said.

"My experience, from having worked in England, is that after players have played for the Lions they have less preparation time than normal. They do not have the six weeks as normal.

"But for us it's like we have the Lions each year because we only have 10 or 12 days' maximum of preparation.

"Our guys play 40 games each year. The structure of the Top 14 means you can't go against this.

"It's just that in the year of the Lions they have a few weeks less in pre-season."


From Belfast Telegraph