Rugby World Cup 2011

Lievremont's RWC final wish

2011-10-22 06:38
Marc Lievremont (File)

Auckland - Marc Lievremont has only one wish left heading into the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand - to wake up with a hangover on Monday as the first French coach to win the Rugby World Cup.

Lievremont berated his players as "spoilt brats" last week for defying his orders and going out celebrating after the narrow 9-8 semifinal win over Wales.

He certainly won't stand in the way of any celebrations if the French beat New Zealand in what would be a huge upset.

France lost two pool matches, one to New Zealand and the other to Tonga, and squeaked past 14-man Wales in the semis, while the All Blacks have won every game convincingly and head into Eden Park as overwhelming favorites.

Lievremont played down the pressure on his team to defy the odds, and on the fact this is his last game in charge of France - he will step down after the tournament, whatever the result.

"There are worse things in life, I am feeling good, I am relaxed, I'm focused and I'm trying to appreciate these last moments," Lievremont said, adding that he would like "to wake up with a hangover" on Monday as world champion.

"We had our last training session yesterday, our last video session this morning," Lievremont added. "Now I'm handing it over to the captain and the players and really it is all down to them now."

Lievremont's World Cup has been almost like a separate event in itself.

His frank talking and sometimes brutal chiding of his players, the constant talk of rifts with them, and his sometimes sarcastic barbs toward the media, have provided many headlines.

On Saturday, he seemed to have few regrets about calling an end to his coaching career.

"To be honest, I would like it all to be over now, at this point, but for it to end well," he said. "All the moments this week have been last moments with me. Last moments with staff ... and this is the last press conference, it's going to be heartbreaking to drag myself away from you!"

Few critics have given France much chance of winning in the build-up to Sunday's match, while some local press took to speculating that France would resort to foul play if things start going against them at Eden Park.

Lievremont afforded himself a dismissive, wry smile when asked what he thought of the allegations of eye gouging made by former All Blacks forward Wayne Shelford regarding the 1999 semifinal against France.

When that question was followed with apparent claims that the French players would deliberately try and target flanker Richie McCaw's nagging foot injury, Lievremont responded with bristling sarcasm.

"That's something I forgot to mention to my players, thanks for bringing it up," he said. "More seriously, I think the French team is one of the most, if not most, disciplined team in the competition. At no point on or off the pitch have we been guilty of anything like this, the players have been more than respectful."

Whether or not France wins on Sunday, Lievremont will certainly have made his mark as one of the most charismatic and outspoken coaches to have graced a World Cup.


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