France claim last-gasp win over England
Pascal Pape of France celebrates victory over England. Pic: Getty Images

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre praised the collaboration between the national federation and French clubs following his side's dramatic 26-24 defeat of England on Saturday.

France began their Six Nations campaign in the best possible fashion with a last-gasp defeat of their keenest rivals, thanks to Maxime Machenaud's conversion of Gael Fickou's try at the Stade de France.

But Saint-Andre insisted France's never-say-die finish wouldn't have been possible without the help of Top 14 clubs and the French Rugby Federation (FFR).

"There was an evolution; we have to congratulate the French Federation because if we hadn't had two weeks to prepare, we wouldn't have won (on Saturday), I have to be clear on that," Saint-Andre said.

"In terms of physical intensity, our players also need an intra-season break of four to five weeks.

"Also, I have to congratulate the Top 14 clubs because they didn't have their players last weekend; it's also due to this development (that France won)."

France got off to a flying start as Saint-Andre's gamble on debutant fly-half Jules Plisson paid dividends when the Stade Francais No.10 created the opening try inside the first minute with a clever chip over the defence for Yoann Huget to score.

"Jules' performance was in the image of the France team - the first 20 minutes were magisterial, magnificent, technically and tactically right," Saint-Andre said.

"But then one moment he dipped, he missed a few tackles at the beginning of the second half and made some mistakes.

"But we challenged a young player to play at the top level, he lived up to it and in his first appearance for the national team to play 80 minutes, I must congratulate his mentality."

Although they lost in heart-wrenching fashion, England's head coach Stuart Lancaster was focussing on the positives after the match.

"It was a great performance in lots of ways; we're very proud and once we get over the initial disappointment we'll take a huge amount of positives from the game," he said.

"Games are never won or lost on one moment, everything matters at this level. It was a true test match played between two great teams."

Wales beat Italy 23-15 in Cardiff, while Ireland play Scotland in Dublin on Sunday.

The West Australian

Popular videos