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Sunday March 16, 2014 MYT 5:52:51 AM
Sunday March 16, 2014 MYT 5:53:47 AM
by julien pretot
France's Brice Dulin (R) is congratulated by teammate France's Maxime Machenaud (L) after scoring a try against Ireland during their Six Nations rugby union match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
PARIS (Reuters) - France were left reflecting on "the little details" that make the difference as they finished their poor Six Nations campaign with a 22-20 home defeat by champions Ireland on Saturday.
There was a slight, if not spectacular, improvement from last season when Les Bleus ended up with the wooden spoon.
Philippe Saint-Andre, who has been tinkering with his halfback and third row combinations, told a news conference his team were still learning the ropes at the very highest level.
"We've got three wins, it's better than last year," he said.
France started their campaign with victories over England and Italy before being thrashed 27-6 by Wales and only managing a last-gasp 19-17 win against Scotland.
"This team need to grow, it's a matter of details," said Saint-Andre, who added that he was proud of his players.
"We can't say our players can't play rugby. There was a will, there was solidarity and the ambition to play ball, to make passes, to create.
"At the very high level it's the little details that make the difference."
France were again penalised at the scrum against Ireland, especially in the first half as they struggled to adapt to new International Rugby Board (IRB) rules.
"It's been complicated," France lock and captain Pascal Pape told a news conference.
"In the first half it was really hard. (Prop) Thomas (Domingo) was being closely watched by the referee and his assistant while I did not have the feeling he was at fault.
"Then after the break we pushed through the middle but it was not enough."
Asked what France lacked to win the game, Saint-Andre added: "A couple of scrums and lineouts, maybe, We could have finished second and England could have won the tournament."
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