- Publish Date
- Friday, 16 October 2015, 1:39PM
France's head coach Philippe Saint-Andre has effectively been "sacked" according to media reports in Europe.
British and French media are reporting an apparent player mutiny ahead of Sunday morning's World Cup quarter final against the All Blacks in Cardiff.
English papers are quoting their French counterparts in claiming Saint-Andre has been "overthrown" and that while he is still likely to be in the coaches' box at Millennium Stadium, the players have turned their back on him and are ignoring his instructions and game plans.
L'obs Sport reported that players were "discreetly dismissing" Saint-Andre, after having lost respect for the coach after four years in charge.
The report claims the squad did not view Saint-Andre as a "leader of men" and FFR vice president Serge Blanco was a "destabilising" figuire.
The apparent player-led mutiny is a mirror of a similar uprising at the last World Cup in 2011. The then coach Marc Lievremont was at odds with the players right from the start following a pool game loss to Tonga.
He stayed in the position even with France going all the way to the final. But the players ignored him throughout the tournament and he was sacked after the French were beaten by the All Blacks 8-7 in the final.
Earlier this week French newspaper Midi Olympique published a picture of lock Yoann Maestri appearing to shoulder barge Saint-Andre in the players' tunnel after the team's disappointing 24-9 defeat to Ireland, which consigned to a quarter-final with the All Blacks.
Rival newspaper L'equipe, meanwhile, carried a headline on its front page which read "L'appel a la revolte", or "A call to revolt".
In the aftermath of the defeat in Cardiff, Saint-Andre called on his squad to stay unified for the test against the All Blacks.
L'Equipe wrote that Maestri, along with Pascal Pape and Nicolas Mas had the seniority to stage a revolt against Saint-Andre.
However, Saint-Andre's exit was already on the cards. He was due to be replaced by former Toulouse coach Guy Noves at the end of the tournament.
The news will worry the All Blacks as it creates even more expectancy from an already unpredictable opponent .
Earlier today All Blacks coach Steve Hansen drew gasps when he made a joke about the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.
In a press conference following the naming of his side to play in the quarter-final, Hansen talked about New Zealand's relationship with France.
"When we think of it we don't limit it to the Rugby World Cup," he said.
"There's been a great relationship between the two countries for a long, long time. Apart from the Rainbow Warrior, we've probably been on the same page for most of the time. From a rugby point of view we've got similar athletes ... their game is built around flair in the backs and real physicality up front."
The jibe, which refers to the bombing of Greenpeace ship in Auckland in 1985 by two French agents, was met by shocked silence and has been viewed by many as Hansen stoking tensions.
Hansen also had a dig at the French squad, when he referred to their traditional flair being coached out of them.
"I'm not sure it's the same flair they've got now. The Top 14 has become quite a dour competition ... I know they're trying to recapture that flair - it's there, you can see it - and when they let it loose it's definitely there. We'll be expecting them to play with flair and physicality."
Asked why they no longer had as much flair as the France of old, Hansen replied: "I'm not sure, you'll have to ask their coaches. Usually their coach has something to do with it."