France v England, Six Nations, March 11
Saint-Andre reveals war hero inspiration
ESPNscrum Staff
March 11, 2012
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre unveils his first XV for the match with Italy, Paris, France, January 31, 2012
Philippe Saint-Andre has revealed his inspiration © Getty Images

Philippe Saint-Andre has revealed that he has drawn inspiration from his grandfather, a hero of the French resistance, since taking the reins as France coach.

The 44-year-old, who was capped 69 times by his country before taking over the coaching mantle following last year's Rugby World Cup, is named after his paternal grandfather, who was executed along with 16 fellow resistance fighters by German soldiers in 1944.

A school, in the village of La Chapelle-en-Vercors, now carries his grandfather's name and since accepting the role of France boss he has looked there for guidance.

"That school is named after a far greater man than I will ever be," he told The Daily Telegraph. "I am always embarrassed when people assume it is must be a tribute to me. No, that school commemorates a proper hero and a man who I never knew but love, a man who inspires me always.

"Of course I have always carried his story with me but I started to think more deeply about him when I was appointed to be the France coach after the World Cup.

"For a very rare moment in sport I had "thinking" time and a chance to assess what I wanted from the France team I am privileged to coach. And my first thought was my grandfather and his comrades in the Vercors maquisards and their great qualities which I want my teams to embrace.

"Naturally I want to produce a great XV of France, but I want a little more than that. I want a group of good people that France can look up to. Please don't go writing that I am 'crazy French' when I say this. Everybody in England knows, I hope, that I love life and laughing and that I am not really a 'serious' person, but I do believe that underneath everything you must have a philosophy.

"I don't want to hear us whinging and complaining about defeat and referees and showing arrogance in victory or being bad losers. I want us showing complete passion, courage and professionalism always. Do that and I am happy even if we lose. People look to us."

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