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RUGBY

England tie is our grand slam: France coach

French rugby coach Phillippe Saint-André has said that next weekend's game against Six Nations championship leaders England would be their grand slam match.

The 45-year-old – who was left bitterly disappointed after their opening two defeats to Italy in Rome and Wales last Saturday at the Stade de France – added his side needed to be confident and daring if they were to end England's hopes of the Grand Slam.

England are on a run of three successive wins, a record defeat of the world champions the All Blacks last December and then beating Scotland and Ireland in a tight encounter last Sunday.

France, however, could be facing their first wooden spoon since 1957.

"The England game can be our Grand Slam," said Saint-André as he met up with his squad at Orly airport on Saturday.

"The English are euphoric at the moment. Everyone is favouring them for the Grand Slam and us for the wooden spoon," added Saint-André, whose target this season had been an improvement from their fourth-placed finish in his first Six Nations last year.

Saint-Andre, who replaced Marc Lievremont after the 8-7 2011 World Cup final loss to the All Blacks, said that he was relishing the challenge of beating the English on their own ground.

"We have to go there full of enthusiasm, confidence and daring," said Saint-André, who had two spells coaching in England with Gloucester and then Sale.

"We are going there totally unrestrained. What a wonderful challenge to be going to Twickenham. I am really eager to be proud of a team that is going to go there and give 120%."

Saint-André, who has blamed a hectic club schedule for the fatigue of his players in contrast to the ones that won three successive games in November, said he hoped a week's rest would have freshened up his players.

"We have players who are going to be fresh physically, therefore we are going to have good training sessions," said Saint-André.

"It is important that the group lives well together, and from that the team gives their all on the pitch."

Saint-André will announce his starting line-up on Thursday before they leave for England later that day with the match kicking-off at 5pm GMT on Saturday.

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RUGBY

French rugby mourns death of fourth young player in months

French rugby was left mourning the death of a 23-year-old student on Monday, the fourth young player to have died in eight months.

French rugby mourns death of fourth young player in months
Photo: AFP

Nathan Soyeux, who was not registered with the French rugby federation (FFR), passed away in Dijon on Sunday, having been admitted to hospital after an adverse reaction to a tackle in a match at a tournament for engineering schools on November 24.

Soyeux sustained the blow whilst being tackled by an opponent and was at first able to sit up before complaining of nausea and then losing consciousness.

Taken to Dijon hospital, the player was put in an induced coma for two weeks, but his health deteriorated following efforts to bring him around, according to his engineering school, Esirem.

Soyeux becomes the fourth young French player since May to die after being injured during a match.

In December, Stade Francais youth flanker Nicolas Chauvin, 18, died after breaking his neck. In August Louis Fajfrowski, 21, died following a heavy tackle playing for Aurillac and in May 17-year-old Adrien Descrulhes passed away a day after receiving a blow to the head playing for amateur club Billom.

Chauvin's death prompted France's Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu to call on rugby authorities to make the game safer, with the former Olympic swimmer saying she would meet FFR president Bernard Laporte to discuss ways of preventing more deaths.

The FFR confirmed in December it will put together a global forum alongside World Rugby, the sport's governing body, to discuss player health and the evolution of the game's laws in March 2019 in France.

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