Saint-Andre, with his staff, watched France’s 30-12 victory over Italy in their Six Nations opener twice overnight and could see the World Cup runners-up struggled to put pressure on their opponents in the rucks. “We lack that ferocity, that desire to go forward,” said Saint-Andre, although he praised his players for their capacity to follow orders. “We were more in a training session than in an official match. When we upped the pace, we were better in attack and in defence. We cannot let the Irish play like they want because they will score when they have the opportunity. We will have to take them by the throat.”
Saint-Andre, who took over from Marc Lievremont last December, said there would be changes to the line-up for the match at the Stade de France, but thought there was much to build on.
“I’m not depressed. We won. We scored four half-back tries,” he said. “We were not dominated, we defended very well, we were disciplined. There is a lot to take into the next games.”
The great defence, “Lievremont’s legacy”, according to Saint-Andre, is something to build on but it will not be enough against Ireland. “We must be more precise. Our defence is very well organised but we lacked aggressiveness. We should have deprived them of space. We lacked consistency in terms of gaining possession.”
The highlight of Saturday’s win was a wonderful try by Julien Malzieu. Left wing Malzieu handed off three tackles in his 40-metre first-half burst as France made their chances count, with Aurelien Rougerie, Vincent Clerc and Wesley Fofana also touching down on a bitterly cold afternoon in Paris. Dimitri Yachvili kicked 10 points for the hosts.
Italy, who beat France for the first time in the Six Nations last year, shaded territory and possession in the opening half, but rarely threatened a sturdy home defence.
Kristopher Burton landed two penalties and a drop goal for Italy and Tobias Botes also kicked a penalty.
“We’re very happy to have beaten them, it’s a little bit of revenge,” said Yachvili. “There are many teams who can win it (the Six Nations). We finished runners up in the World Cup, so many teams are waiting for us.”