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Philippe Saint-Andre

Nation: France
Place of Birth: Romans-Sur-Isère, April 19, 1967
Position: Wing
Internationals: 68 caps between 1990 and 1997
Inducted: England v France (September 6, 2003)

The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.

If James Simpson-Daniel ever scores a try like the one that France conjured up in the Grand Slam decider at Twickenham in 1991, then the man he can thank is the scorer of that try, one Philippe Saint-Andre.

It was under Saint-Andre, when the hyphenated Frenchman was in charge at Gloucester, that the hyphenated Englishman switched from fly half to wing threequarter, with stunning results.

“I changed him into a winger,” said the former France wing. “I saw the qualities he had then and I told him he should be French. He was not ready for outside [fly] half, but as a winger with his speed and balanced running he was a match-winner. He puts guys into the gaps, just like a French player.”

The France team of 1991 brought bring the Stadium to its feet, but Saint-Andre’s memories are tinged with disappointment.
“For all that I have wonderful memories of Twickenham – it is after all the temple of rugby for me – yet there is the bad memory of losing every time I played there,” he confessed. “I have won with France in every stadium in the world, from New Zealand and Australia to South Africa, Edinburgh and Cardiff, but never at Twickenham.

“But that try was special. Mind you, so was the French team that year. I was young and I was surrounded by some wonderful players, especially in the backs, where we had Serge Blanco, Jean-Baptiste Lafond, Franck Mesnel, Philippe Sella, Didier Camberabero and Pierre Berbizier at scrum half.”

The try began behind the French line after Simon Hodgkinson had missed a penalty kick. Berbizier caught the ball, stood for a moment then lobbed it to Blanco, who was looping round behind him. Lafond and Camberabero took the ball on, and found Sella out on the right. He momentarily held it up waiting for support to arrive, then back it went to Camberabero, who chipped ahead, re-gathered, then launched a cross kick to the middle of the field, where Saint-Andre was storming through. He collected the ball with barely a pause and crossed for the try.

It had the whole of the stadium in uproarious appreciation of a special moment in the game and ranks today with the famous Barbarian score of 1973 as one of the greatest tries scored.

France scored a total of three tries to England’s one, yet still they lost. They slipped again in the World Cup later that year, and although two years after that Saint-Andre scored two tries in the Five Nations match, still he finished on the losing side. He experienced defeat once more when he was captain in 1995. It was not until after Saint-Andre had won the last of his 69 caps and retired that France finally won at Twickenham, in 1997.

Article by Dai Llewellyn


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