Don't make us scapegoats
French clubs on Wednesday fired back at criticism labelling them as the main reason France performed so badly in the recently-concluded Six Nations.
France finished the tournament with the wooden spoon, with just one victory to their credit, over Scotland, and a draw against Ireland.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre laid a large part of the blame for the poor performances at the door of an overloaded domestic playing schedule, which he hopes will be revised when the clubs, the players representatives and the French federation meet in the coming weeks.
Saint-Andre's concerns were also voiced, to little avail, by his two predecessors, Marc Lievremont and Bernard Laporte.
But Paul Goze, president of the French national rugby league (LNR), which oversees the professional 15-a-side game in France (Top 14, Pro D2), hit back Wednesday, insisting that it was unfair for the clubs to be labelled as responsible.
"Clubs and the Top 14 are often made the scapegoats when the results (of the national side) are disappointing," said Goze.
"We're nice guys, we want to understand fully, but we have to put it into context. We're all for improvement but we don't want to be the scapegoats.
"We can't say that we're the best club championship in the word and then say that that causes all the problems."
Saint-Andre's warning that internationals not released earlier for better preparation camps with the France side might see their places "under threat" was "exaggerated", according to Goze.
"It's the type of outburst we have now but it wasn't the same at the end of November [when France won all three internationals against Australia, Argentina and Samoa].
"Then we won and now we lost. If the point Philippe Saint-Andre is making was so fundamentally true and irrevocable, it was also true on November 25."
Goze, however, remained optimistic about the June meeting between the interested parties, a hot topic among which will be the debate over the percentage of "home-bred" players required at clubs, currently standing at 60 percent of the squad.
The percentage of those so-called "Jiff" players will fall to 55 percent next season, and Saint-Andre and Goze both seem to agree that it should be on the match sheet and not the overall squad.
"I'm not blocked on the issue," he said. "We're for the improvement of French rugby.
"We want to help the French XV blossom without that penalising us. There's no antagonism."