'England match is our Grand Slam'
February 19, 2013
Phillipe Saint-Andre has been criticised for his Six Nations team selections © Getty Images
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has labelled Saturday's Six Nations Test against England as their 'Grand Slam'.
Saint-Andre's side go into the match as huge underdogs having suffered two defeats in their opening pair of matches in this season's Six Nations. But as France have proved in the past, noticeably during the 2011 World Cup, they thrive as underdogs and have the ability to cause an upset on Saturday.
Castres' back-rower Antonie Claassen could make his debut for France on Saturday and described England as "the best team in the world right now" while Saint-Andre was quick to emphasise their underdog status.
"England can be our Grand Slam" said Saint-Andre. "They're in a state of euphoria. Everybody sees them win the grand slam, everybody sees us take the wooden spoon. We will need to bring enthusiasm and confidence into the game.
"We will not beat England by doing nothing. Going to Twickenham is a fantastic challenge. I want to be proud of a team who will go there to give 120 percent of what they have."
France name their side later in the week and it remains to be seen whether Frederic Michalak keeps his spot at fly-half. He came in for criticism for his performances against both Italy and Wales but he is relishing the chance to confound the doubters on Saturday, if he is given the nod.
"We are going to play against one of the best teams in the world," Michalak said. "We're going to play with our heart, defend our colours and I hope it will go our way. It would be the icing on the cake.
"It's always special to play against England. We will try to dig and find something we have not found yet. France v England, at Twickenham, it's the ideal place against the ideal rival. You can't dream of a better stage - 80,000 supporters with all the folklore that goes with it, the atmosphere... I cannot wait."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Some people have it from day one and Brian did." Tom Hamilton talks to the two players who made their Ireland debuts alongside Brian O'Driscoll back in June 1999
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column