France head coach Philippe Saint-André congratulated Brian O’Driscoll on winning the Six Nations but admitted that he is relieved that the Ireland centre is retiring.
A dejected Philippe Saint-André saw his team denied a fourth win from five in the Six Nations as Brian O’Driscoll got the perfect send off at the Stade de France.
“Ireland have improved a lot because they won the tournament,” he said. “They played quite a quick game and they showed a lot of spirit and character during the Six Nations.
“The high level is so close. They lost in England and today they won in one very, very tight game.”
He added: “Congratulations to Ireland and Brian O’Driscoll. Next year Brian O’Driscoll will not be here so maybe the God of rugby will be on our side!”
Saint-André was pleased to see his players answer their critics with a performance that was full of energy and hunger but he was clearly disappointed that they came up short in a 22-20 defeat.
“Today you can’t say that our players don’t know how to play rugby or that they don’t have desire. The top level is cruel.”
Ireland looked like they would be denied a Championship win at the death when Pascal Papé set up Damien Chouly to cross in the right corner.
Televison match official Gareth Simmonds ruled that Papé’s pass was forward, however, something the French captain had not been certain of at the time.
“No, not necessarily because it happened very quickly,” the Stade Francais second row said. “I saw the video like you afterwards and I think it was forward – a little bit forward. It’s a pity.”