France eye World Cup seeding
September 13, 2012
Philippe Saint-Andre's France tackle Australia, Argentina and Samoa later this year © Getty Images
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has set his sights on a place in the top four of the IRB World Rankings and with it a valuable top seeding for the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw.
Saint-Andre's side are currently fifth in the rankings with the top four teams set to be kept apart when the battle lines are drawn for the next global showpiece in London in December. Standing in their way are New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and England.
To achieve their goal they must see off the challenge of Australia, Argentina and Samoa in their November international clashes while hoping England and their other European rivals fail to upset the southern hemisphere giants during a mouth-watering month of Test match action.
Victory over Australia would provide a major boost to their chances but they have not beaten the Wallabies since 2004 while Argentina have also had the better of France in recent years, but Saint-Andre remains hopeful.
"These are three important tests," he told AFP, "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.
"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 is particularly wary of a Pumas side that has held its own on its debut in the Rugby Championship. "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."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game