French Rugby
Saint-Andre confirms Dusautoir as skipper
ESPNscrum Staff
December 9, 2011
Philippe Saint-Andre fields questions in his first press conference as French boss, French Rugby Federation HQ, Marcoussis, France, December 9, 2011
Philippe Saint-Andre fields questions in his first press conference as French boss © Getty Images
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Teams: France

New French boss Philippe Saint-Andre has unveiled his backroom staff and has confirmed Thierry Dusautoir will continue as skipper.

Dusautoir took the IRB Player of the Year award following his heroics during the World Cup where he played an instrumental role in leading France to the final of the global gathering despite a seeming divide between players and coach Marc Lievremont. But Saint-Andre believes Dusautoir is the obvious choice as skipper and has claimed that the new backroom staff will aim to lower the age of the side.

Saint-Andre will name his initial 30-man squad on January 5 and has suggested that he will look to blend youth with experience. "The captain will be the same because of what he did as the world's best player, for his charisma, for being a leader in a World Cup where things were complicated and his ability to bring together all the players behind him," he said. "We will rely heavily on the experienced players.

"What is exceptional is that not one player announced his retirement after the World Cup. So everyone is ready for selection. We will watch all the matches up until January 5. We've made a list of 60-70 players who we'll follow in all their games."

"We had one of the oldest France teams, with an average age of 29 years and 10 months. We know that there are some players who are 33, 34 or 35 years old who will not be there at the next World Cup.

"We'll try to build up a good base of players who we think have the necessary qualities to be tomorrow's great players."

Saint-Andre plays his first match as France boss against Italy on February 4 and has also ended speculation by confirming Yannick Bru as forwards coach and Patrice Lagisquet as backs coach. Saint-Andre said: "As we have very little time, I preferred to tighten up the staff in full knowledge that it could change over the coming four years."

Dave Ellis' future as defence coach, however, looks bleak. Saint-Andre and Lagisquet will fill the role while the new boss has replaced former team manager Jo Maso with Antoine Marin. Maso will now take over as head of the selection committee.

Following France's World Cup final loss to New Zealand, Saint-Andre has expressed the need for more Tests against Southern Hemisphere opponents. "I would love to have three or four Tests in November and play every year against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia," he said. "We are a great rugby nation. We've made the World Cup final three times (1987, 2003, 2011) but we've never got our hands on the trophy.

"To play three countries back to back in November helps prepare players to their best, their speed of execution and putting together a string of high-level matches."

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