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Philippe Saint-Andre to become French rugby coach

Toulon sporting director Philippe Saint-Andre will take over from Marc Lievremont as France rugby coach after the World Cup, according to French Rugby Federation sources.


AFP - Toulon sporting director Philippe Saint-Andre is to replace Marc Lievremont as France rugby coach after the World Cup, French Rugby Federation (FRF) sources told AFP on Monday.

Former France winger Saint-Andre, 44, surprisingly lost out to Lievremont when the latter was appointed to the post after Bernard Laporte stepped down following the 2007 World Cup.

Lievremont, who has had a mixed reign landing the 2010 Six Nations Grand Slam but also suffered crushing defeats away to Argentina last year, a record home defeat by Australia and an historic Six Nations defeat by Italy this year, had announced in May last year he would not extend his present contract.

The timing of the announcement could prove an unwelcome distraction with the French squad set to fly out to New Zealand for the World Cup next Monday.

The 69-times capped Saint Andre - who made his name as a coach at English side Sale - is due to be officially unveiled this week.

The reports about Saint-Andre's impending appointment was greeted with mixed emotions by Toulon's president and owner Mourad Boudjellal.

While Boudjellal - who has invested millions made from his former comic book empire into the club - said it was a proud moment for Toulon he added that the timing couldn't have been worse with the French domestic season due to get under way on Friday.

"It is vital that the Federation co-ordinates its contractual calendar with the coaches contracts which come to an end on June 30," said Boudjellal.

"It is in any case difficult to find a coach of this level at this time of year."

Boudjellal - whose money has enabled players of the stature of Jonny Wilkinson come to the club - said that Saint-Andre's departure would be a huge loss to the club, which he took to the French championship play-offs in 2010 and into the knockout stages of last season's European Cup on their debut in the competition.

"I learnt all this from reading the press, but it is good news for Philippe and a source of pride for the club.

"On the human side, it is slightly disappointing because even if sometimes he was confrontational, he was very professional and very agreeable company."

Saint-Andre, who has refused to comment on the reports, will have as his assistants Yannick Bru, presently Toulouse forwards coach, and another former France wing Patrice Lagisquet, who was recently hired by Biarritz.

Lievremont's lieutenants Emile Ntamack and Didier Retiere are to be assigned other roles within the French Technical Centre at Marcoussis.

Boudjellal admitted that he had been in touch with former All Black great Tana Umaga, who has coached the club before, but said that all options were being explored.

The Federation also came under attack from Toulouse president Jean-Rene Bouscatel, who slammed them for their 'inadmissible' behaviour over making an approach to Bru behind his back while the National Rugby League (LNR) chief Pierre-Yves Revol echoed Boudjellal in that the FFR should co-ordinate the contract with those of the clubs.

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