25 Jan 2009

Saint-Andre tipped to take Umaga's job

5:37 pm on 25 January 2009

The strong New Zealand connection with the French rugby club Toulon is about to end, with Tana Umaga likely to be replaced as coach of the side early next week.

The big spending club is expected to confirm Sale coach and former France skipper, Philippe Saint-Andre as their new manager for the next French rugby season replacing All Blacks legend Umaga.

Club sources say that with the club facing a quick return to the second division after just one season in the elite Top 14, Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal is also expected to clear out a raft of players who have failed to make an impression with the club.

Prop Ben Castle, 28, who arrived from Waikato's Chiefs in the summer is tipped to be amongst those on their way out of the team after being left out of the side in recent weeks.

It is also understood that Saint-Andre could also bring Sale players with him to Toulon with French stars Sebastien Bruno and Sebastien Chabal top of the list.

Umaga guided Toulon into the top flight last year but the team are second from the bottom of the Top 14 table despite investing huge sums in high-profile players including Jerry Collins, Joe van Niekerk and Sonny Bill Williams.

Saint-Andre, a former France international winger, led Sale to the English championship title in 2006 and the European Challenge Cup crown a year earlier.

He arrived at the English Premiership side in 2004, having previously performed an identical role with Gloucester and in France with Bourgoin.

Saint-Andre won 68 caps for France, 34 of them as captain, and is second in France's all-time try-scorers list with 32, behind Serge Blanco (38).