France and Ireland in fight for ‘wooden spoon’
Les Bleus coach Saint-Andre admits he would settle for no tries scored if it meant his struggling team could have a Six Nations win
France hope to ease fears of a first "wooden spoon" since 1957 with their first victory of the Six Nations today against an Ireland side who are also in danger of ending up with the unwanted "prize".
A campaign that opened with plenty of optimism after a successful November series of three test wins has descended into deep depression and a desperate France coach Philippe Saint-Andre saying he would settle even for a 3-0 win.
Defeats by Italy in Rome, at home to a Wales side that had lost their previous eight tests and England at Twickenham have even had some hankering after the roller-coaster ride that was previous coach Marc Lievremont's hallmark.
Saint-Andre, whose side have made the worst start to the tournament since their 1982 predecessors also lost three on the bounce, will not want to come away from Dublin needing to beat a revitalised Scotland in Paris on Saturday week.
He is facing a fellow coach whose position is also under some scrutiny in Declan Kidney, the high of the 2009 grand glam, the last time the hosts beat France and their only victory over them in the past 13 meetings since 2003, long faded.
Saint-Andre said he did not care if they failed to score tries so long as the score was in their favour.
"The French team's role is to win and win well but in our situation, we'd take a 3-0 victory," he said.
"You've got to make your own luck. We didn't face up to the situation in the first three matches. We've got to score when we're playing well, concede fewer points when we're not [and] be better defensively. We've got to learn to win again."
Ireland's problem against the Scots was that despite dominating for much of the match their young flyhalf Paddy Jackson could barely buy himself three points so inaccurate was his kicking.
Kidney has stuck by him after he came through a fitness test but he faces an enormous test of character in front of his home crowd.
Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip, whose form and captaincy has been under fire, admits the hosts have to somehow rediscover the form they showed in the opening 43 minutes against Wales if they are to deny the French.
"The problems since then have been more about our accuracy," he said. "Against Wales we were on the money in terms of delivering at key moments and that's what we need this weekend. Though it's a massive challenge."
Meanwhile, Scott Johnson's present and past will collide when Scotland play Wales at Murrayfield today, with both sides still very much in title contention.
The Australian is Scotland's interim head coach, a position that could yet well become permanent following their back-to-back wins over Italy and Ireland.
In 2006, Johnson was in temporary charge of Wales, with his three games overseeing the fortunes of the Welshmen yielding no wins, one draw and two defeats.
Johnson, however, played down talk of having a huge bank of inside knowledge to call upon, saying: "I know them and I have coached them and I was fortunate to live in a country that was so good to me."