Six Nations: Saint-Andre ‘to stay with France’

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PHILIPPE Saint-Andre has distanced himself from suggestions he will step down as head coach if France finish 
bottom of the RBS Six Nations.

The pre-tournament favourites have just one point after Saturday’s stalemate with Ireland and could yet finish with the wooden spoon for the first time since 1999. Saint-Andre declared in the build-up to the Aviva Stadium clash that he would “accept responsibility” if that worst-case scenario unfolds.

But he said afterwards: “I will of course, as is my nature, assume total responsibility and take the blame for the campaign. However, I am here till 2015 and I will not be leaving.

“The federation and the committee director gave us a target to prepare for 2015. We will continue to work towards that objective. I take the responsibility because I have always done that, I have never tried to shift it on to others.”

Ireland’s Keith Earls criticised the failure to award his side a penalty in the final throes of Saturday’s match. With the scores tied after the French had struck back in the last ten minutes, Earls was nudged over the touchline by Vincent Debaty as they chased Eoin Reddan’s chip into the right corner. That enabled No 8 Louis Picamoles, the scorer of France’s 74th-minute try, to get to the ball and television match official Nigel Whitehouse judged the contact between Debaty and Earls as legal.

Earls felt at least a penalty that would have offered the chance to win the match should have been awarded as he was confident of winning the race.

“In my eyes it was definitely a penalty, I’d have to see it again to see if it was a penalty try. He knocked me off my feet and came across my line,” the Munster wing said.

“It wasn’t even a shoulder, he used his elbow and forearm to push me off my feet.”