France target win over Wallabies

by staff

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has sent an early warning to the Wallabies, saying victory over them in November is key to his team's 2015 World Cup seeding.

Despite finishing a desperately close runner-up to champions New Zealand in last year's World Cup, France are fifth in the IRB world rankings while Australia are No.2.

The World Cup draw will be held in December and France coach Saint-Andre is determined to have his team ranked in the top four by then to guarantee a top seeding in one of the four World Cup pools.

To achieve that he has set his team the task of winning all three of their Tests in the November international window.

The 45-year-old Saint-Andre -- who replaced Marc Lievremont after France's 8-7 defeat by the All Blacks in the 2011 World Cup final -- will not have an easy task in achieving that as the French host Australia, who they have not beaten since 2004, in Paris on November 10, then bogey team Argentina a week later on November 17.

Their final fixture comes against Samoa a week after that.

"These are three important tests: Australia who are a bit of a bete noire for France, Argentina will be as well prepared as ever before because they will have been together for four months and the Samoans," said Saint-Andre.

"We have the time, with the Four Nations, to prepare well for the Australians and the Argentinians.

"We are fifth in the IRB rankings, just behind the English.

"The World Cup draw is December 3 and the target is to be a seed."

Saint-Andre said France would have to avoid playing into Australia's hands if they were to end their winless streak against them -- their last meeting under Lievremont ending with a 59-16 walloping at the Stade de France in 2010.

"It is a team that every time they play France tries to play at a ruthless rhythm and to keep the ball," he said.

"Their objective is to wear you out physically. If you are not well-placed defensively, and you don't impose yourselves combatively and slow down their delivery of the ball, they are capable of scoring 40 points in a quarter of an hour."

Saint-Andre, said that Argentina were an even more formidable foe now they were playing in the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship and, in his eyes, had overtaken France as a rugby force.

"Argentina are better than just a good side," he said.

"They drew with South Africa at home in their first Four Nations clash when they deserved to win.

"In New Zealand (against the All Blacks last weekend), until the yellow card, they were holding their own.

"Argentina will progress, they have prepared for the Four Nations as if it were the World Cup.

"That is our problem: our players do not have time for such a phase of development.

"After a month of holidays, they (Argentina) went straight into a series of friendly matches etc ... The Argentinians have adapted to international rugby in the professional era and in its organisation, they have overtaken France in that domain."