France should follow England's example, says Philippe Saint-Andre
Agence France-Presse in Paris
France should follow England's example when it comes to looking after their players and not overloading the schedule, French coach Philippe Saint-Andre said.
The 45-year-old, who spent over eight years coaching in England, said the lack of time allowed for top players to develop their skills had hindered and would continue to hinder the national side.
Saint-Andre, who filled the vacuum left by the unpredictable Marc Lievremont when he stepped down after the 2011 World Cup final defeat by the All Blacks, acknowledges his task of landing the Six Nations title this season is already difficult with three away games.
However, he claimed he would be more comforted had he felt the players were arriving relatively fresh.
"We are going into the Six Nations on the back of four successive wins [the three November tests plus a win over Argentina on their summer tour]," said the 69-times capped former France wing and captain who coached France to fourth in his first Six Nations last year.
"However, the players were fresh then. I don't know in what state I will have them now after Top 14 games and the European Cup pool matches."
Saint-Andre, whose side begin their campaign against Italy in Rome on Sunday, said there could be good news with important talks set to take place at the end of the season.
"We should do the same as in England as I know from working there," said the former Sale and Gloucester coach and sporting director.
"There they play between tests and club rugby about 30-32 matches. Here we play around 40. There are some very, very important negotiations regarding this problem due in June.
"It's not so much about rest as development. In England they have five weeks off, four for holiday and one for development. In France our guys have four weeks holidays and then it is straight back into friendly matches."