Philippe Saint-André

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Philippe Saint-André
Full name Philippe Georges Saint-André
Date of birth (1967-04-19) 19 April 1967 (age 48)
Place of birth Romans-sur-Isère, Drôme, France
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 14 st 5 lb (91 kg)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Wing
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
1988–1997 AS Montferrand[1]
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1997–1999 Gloucester Rugby 38 (70)
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1990–1997 France 69 (152)
Coaching career
Years Club / team
Gloucester Rugby[1]
CS Bourgoin-Jallieu[1]
Sale Sharks[1]
Rugby union career

Philippe Georges Saint-André ([fi.lip ʒɔʁʒ sɛ̃.t‿ɑ̃.dʁe]; born 19 April 1967) is a former French rugby union footballer who earned 69 test caps for France between 1990 and 1997. His preferred position was wing but he could also play at centre. After retiring, Saint-André has found success as a rugby coach in both England and France. He was serving as director of rugby at Toulon before being announced as the successful candidate for head coach of France. He formally took charge of the national team on 1 December 2011.[2]

Playing career[edit]

Nicknamed Le Goret ("the piglet")[3] for his shuffling style of running, Saint-André made his club debut with ASM Montferrand in 1988. He played with the club until 1997. Montferrand made it to the 1994 championship finals, only to be beaten by Toulouse. In 1997, Saint-André crossed the Channel to join English Premiership club Gloucester Rugby and played with them until retiring in 1999.

Saint-André made his test debut as a centre in the famous 12-6 loss to Romania at Auch in May 1990,[4] after which coach Jacques Fouroux resigned. He replaced Olivier Roumat as captain for the final match of the 1994 Five Nations against Scotland, winning 20-12 and scoring a try.[5]

Saint-André captained France in 34 test matches, winning 25 of them. Two of those victories came in two-test series on the 1994 tour of New Zealand, one of the greatest achievements in French rugby. The tour was capped off by one of the most famous tries in rugby history. Towards the end of the second test at Eden Park in Auckland, France were trailing the All Blacks 20-16 and were pinned back deep in their own end by a tactical kick. Saint-André fielded the kick and began a counter-attack that ended in a spectacular try to fullback Jean-Luc Sadourny, securing a memorable 23-20 victory.[6] After the match, Saint-André called the play that led to the winning try "a counter-attack from the end of the world", and it would be permanently enshrined in rugby lore as the "try from the end of the world".[3]

Saint-André's final international appearance was in November 1997 at Parc des Princes against South Africa. The match would also be the last in which Parc des Princes served as France's main venue. Unfortunately for Saint-André, South Africa won the match 52-10.[7] He ended his career as France's second-highest try scorer with 32 tries, a position he held until Vincent Clerc took it in 2012 against Argentina.

Saint-André has a younger brother, Raphaël,[2] who also played club rugby as an outside centre. They played together at Montferrand and briefly at Gloucester. Both brothers participated in the French Championship final and the Challenge Yves du Manoir in 1994.

Coaching career[edit]

At Gloucester and Bourgoin, 1999-2004[edit]

Saint-André remained at Gloucester Rugby after retiring, and took up the position of Director of Rugby. During his three-year reign, he attracted controversy for, among other things, recruiting a large number of French-based players and coaches.[8] Nonetheless, he turned Gloucester into one of the best clubs in England[9] before parting ways in February 2002, albeit amicably, after two months of negotiations over a pay dispute.[8] Saint-André returned to France to coach CS Bourgoin-Jallieu. But yet again his tenure came to an abrupt end when he was sacked in January 2004 after he admitted that he was a candidate to succeed Steve Hansen as coach of Wales.[10]

At Sale and Toulon, 2004-2011[edit]

Two months later, Saint-André again went across the Channel to sign a three-year contract with the Sale Sharks.[9] Unlike at Gloucester, his role as Director would be less hands-on and focus more on recruitment and development.[9] Under Saint-André's direction, Sale would enjoy the most successful period in their history so far. In May 2005 they won their second European Challenge Cup when they defeated French club Pau 27-3.[11] Almost exactly a year later, after finishing on top of the table during the regular Premiership season, Sale won their first English play-off championship with a 45-20 victory over Leicester at Twickenham.[12] Saint-André was given the opportunity to coach France after the 2007 Rugby World Cup, but turned it down when the French Rugby Federation rejected his request to have Brive coach Laurent Seigne join his staff,[13] and so the job was given to Marc Lièvremont. In December 2008, Saint-André confirmed that he would be standing down as director of rugby at Sale when the season was over.[14] He was succeeded in the role of director by Sale's then head coach Kingsley Jones.[14] After nearly two months of speculation on where Saint-André would go next, French club Toulon announced that they had signed him as sporting president, starting his duties officially on 1 July 2009.[15]

In August 2011 it was announced that Saint-André would replace Lièvremont as head coach of France after the 2011 Rugby World Cup.[2]

Coach of France, 2012-[edit]

Although the French reached the final of the 2011 World Cup, their campaign would also be remembered for the disharmony that marred relations between Marc Lièvremont and the players.[16] In light of this, Saint-André's immediate priorities were to restore clear and open communication between players and management,[17] and to restore pride to the image of French rugby:

“The players must also accept that the France team is the window to French rugby and the image and message we send is important. Many youngsters take up the game because of what they see in the team and inspirational players like Thierry Dusautoir, and we must make sure this image is always good. I have spoken to all the players, individually, about these things.”[18]

He also tried to persuade the French Rugby Federation to fall in line with the Home Unions and allow France a full two weeks to prepare for the Six Nations.[18] Unlike the Home Unions, French players are still required to play for their clubs on every other weekend.

Saint-André's first game in charge of Les Bleus was against Italy at Stade de France on 4 February 2012, which France won 30-12.[19] However, after a draw against Ireland and then losses to England and Wales, France finished the 2012 Six Nations Championship in fourth place.

In the 2013 Six Nations Championship France lost their first three games, 18–23 against Italy, 6–16 against Wales and 13-23 against England. The team managed a draw, 13-13, against Ireland in Dublin and a last day 23–16 win against Scotland to finish the championship in last place.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e f
  2. ^ a b c Reuters (25 August 2011). "Philippe Saint-André to become France coach after World Cup". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Averis, Mike (3 February 2012). "Six Nations 2012: Philippe Saint-André finally takes control of France". Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  4. ^ France v Romania at Auch, 24 May 1990 ESPN
  5. ^ Scotland v France at Murrayfield, 19 March 1994 ESPN
  6. ^ New Zealand v France at Eden Park, 3 July 1994 ESPN
  7. ^ France v South Africa at Paris, 22 November 1997 ESPN
  8. ^ a b Wildman, Rob (19 February 2002). "Saint-Andre bids adieu". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Rees, Paul (6 March 2004). "Saint-André signed to build Sale talent base". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "Bad night all way for Saint-Andre". The Daily Telegraph. 26 January 2004. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Sale romp to Challenge Cup win". RTE Sport. 21 May 2005. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Cone, James (27 May 2006). "Sale Beats Leicester in Playoff to Claim English Rugby Title". Bloomberg. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Cleary, Mick (3 February 2012). "Six Nations 2012: France coach Philippe Saint-Andre brings a dash of English to French culture". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Hewett, Chris (5 December 2008). "Saint-André calls time on Sale spell". The Independent. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Saint-Andre to join Toulon". The Independent. 26 January 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "DISCIPLINE KEY FOR SAINT-ANDRE". Sporting Life. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  17. ^ Aylwin, Michael (28 January 2012). "Philippe Saint-André to marry English consistency with French flair". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Gallagher, Brendan (28 January 2012). "Six Nations 2012: Philippe Saint-Andre promises to bring honour and merit back to fractured France". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "France start campaign with a win". ESPN Scrum. 4 February 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "France finish with Six Nations wooden spoon despite win over Scotland". Guardian UK. 16 March 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
France Marc Lièvremont
French National Rugby Union Coach
2011 – present
Succeeded by