Six Nations

No Six Nations pressure, says France coach

2017-01-24 20:53
Guy Noves (Getty)

Marcoussis - France coach Guy Noves insisted on Tuesday his team go into next month's Six Nations under little pressure, but hoping for a much-improved performance after last year's fifth-place finish.

France finished second bottom in 2016 -- only above winless Italy -- after sliding to three successive defeats to round out their campaign in Noves' first season at the helm.

"What we've all been lacking is the cherry (on the cake): winning," Noves acknowledged, after his side defeated Samoa but were narrowly beaten by Australia and New Zealand in the November internationals.

"It's very important to keep moving forward" in terms of playing style, said the long-time former Toulouse coach, adding that his ultimate goal was "to reach the target of winning matches as quickly as possible".

France face a daunting first fixture with a trip to Twickenham to play Grand Slam winners England on February 4. Eddie Jones' men have won 14 straight games, all but one of those coming since the Australian took charge in 2015.

"We have lots of ambition, desire and a bit of character. Therefore we're going to try get closer to the fantastic players the English are," said Noves, with France defeated 31-21 by England in Paris last March.

A military-style training camp will ready the players for the challenges ahead, but Noves claimed he felt "absolutely no pressure for results in the Six Nations, the trip to England and the years to come".

He added: "The only pressure is that which I apply along with my staff. That's enough."

After losing Wesley Fofana to a ruptured Achilles, and Eddy Ben Arous and Henry Chavancy, Noves then saw Camille Chat and Raphael Lakafia withdraw from France's preparations through injury.

Racing 92 hooker Chat, like Ben Arous and Chavancy, was injured at the weekend in his side's loss to Munster -- the trio all featuring despite the French club already being eliminated from the European Champions Cup.

"When we put players on the pitch in a match where there's nothing at stake and they get hurt, and despite these injuries we keep them on the field, it's a shame to lose them from the team," rued Noves.

Another Racing 92 player, fullback Brice Dulin, was overlooked for selection as he faces an anti-doping probe.

Traces of the banned substance higenamine -- used to treat asthma and also a fat burner found in food supplements -- were discovered in a drugs test carried out while he was preparing for the November Test against the All Blacks.

"He was level with Geoffrey Palis, thus we preferred that he not be distracted by this problem and to recall Geoffrey," said Noves, while expressing confidence that Dulin would resolve the issue.

Read more on:    france  |  six nations  |  guy noves  |  rugby
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