Rugby

Pape wary of foreign legion

2014-01-22 16:19
Pascal Pape (AFP)

Paris - France captain Pascal Pape has hit out at a rash of high-profile foreign signings by Top 14 clubs, saying they were damaging the national side.

The likes of England great Jonny Wilkinson and Australia's Matt Giteau are at Toulon, while a host of Wales players have left regional rugby for the lure of a big-money contract in France.

Last season was one of France's worst in recent memory, with coach Philippe Saint-Andre's finishing bottom of the Six Nations Championship table.

"To fill in some positions in the team can become very difficult indeed," said Stade Francais lock Pape, leading France in place of the injured Thierry Dusautoir, at the Six Nations launch in London on Wednesday.

"My club trusts home-grown players and that's important, and I wish more did the same.

"Other clubs don't, it's a shame and it impacts on the national side.

"It is something that we could really do with changing."

In the professional era the Six Nations after a British and Irish Lions tour has seen France take the title.

But with a match at home to England or Les Rosbifs as they are known in France, in Paris on February 1 as his side's tournament 'starter' a concerned Saint-Andre was taking nothing for granted.

"We don't start with a starter: we start with the main course, Les Rosbifs straight away," said the former France captain.

"When you finish bottom in 2013 it's difficult to say you are favourites in 2014, Wales and England are still the favourites.

"Last year it was very painful because small details make the difference.

"I hope that statistic about the Lions tour can be right again, but we cannot expect after our performance last year.

"When the Lions finish late, in July, it is unusual for them and they play more games.

"But playing 40 games a year is nothing new for our players."

Read more on:    pascal pape  |  rugby
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