Auckland - Coach Marc Lievremont has stirred up more upheaval in his French World Cup squad, describing some players as "spoiled brats" after they ignored his orders and went out celebrating the narrow World Cup semi-final win over Wales.
France held on to edge a 14-man Welsh team 9-8 on Saturday night to reach their first World Cup final since 1999, when Lievremont was a player in the squad.
"I went to bed in a bad mood because I'd asked the players not to go out, and I found out a few of them had gone out," Lievremont, now the coach, said Sunday.
He called a meeting on Sunday morning to reproach the players for their night out, telling them in harsh terms that they had let him down.
"I told them what I thought of them," he said. "That they're a bunch of undisciplined, spoiled brats, disobedient, sometimes selfish, always complaining, always whining, and they've been (frustrating me) for four years."
"It seems to be our way of functioning," Lievremont continued, with an apparently serene look on his face, considering what he was saying. "I also told them I have a lot of affection for them, but it's a shame they don't know how to look after themselves."
Lievremont has good reason to warn his players against getting carried away.
He recalls that the '99 team spent most of the week celebrating their inspired 43-31 comeback semi-final win over New Zealand and never prepared properly for the final, which they lost heavily to Australia.
"We're not world champions, we're in the final, that's all. I experienced this in 1999 ... why (does my attitude) surprise you? I'm surprised it surprises you," Lievremont told reporters. "Because in '99 we spent four days celebrating our semi-final win. We didn't prepare properly and I don't want us to relive the same thing."
Lievremont has had harsh words toward his players before, berating them for their lackluster attitude in the opening pool win against Japan, and after the defeat to Tonga in the final pool match.
Perhaps with the repercussions from that in mind, he attempted to backtrack from his comments on Sunday in a belated attempt at peacemaking.
"The night out is incidental, it's not that important," he said. "It's not a few sneaky cigarettes, the two or three beers they're going to drink during the week or extra dessert they eat that's to hamper them for the preparation of the final."
Lievremont continues to have tense relations with some of the French press, saying the players laughed at some of the headlines that have been written about the team. But he appeared irritated when asked about France's level of performance against Wales, when France played for more than 60 minutes with an extra man but failed to score a try.
"I watched it again fairly early this morning, and I really enjoyed it," Lievremont said with a wry smile when asked if he watched a video replay of the semi-final.