Lievremont breaks silence

2011-11-19 06:56

Paris - Former France coach Marc Lievremont has criticised the All Blacks for their attitude toward his players since New Zealand's victory in the World Cup final, a match he finds it too painful to watch again.

In an interview published late Friday on Le Monde newspaper's website, Lievremont praised New Zealand rugby fans during France's unlikely run to the final on October 23.

But he was less kind about the All Blacks' attitude since the game and also questioned whether match referee Craig Joubert had coped with the pressure in the closing stages as New Zealand ground out an 8-7 victory.

"They didn't have a word to say about the France team, and at the gala night at the end of the tournament, it was all about the All Blacks," Lievremont said.

"They were faced with a very trying context because they absolutely had to win. I always thought they were there for the taking. I was more afraid of South Africa."

The match was packed with incident, with France centre Aurelien Rougerie escaping being cited for alleged eye gouging against All Black captain Richie McCaw despite evidence showing the he had a case to answer.

France lost flyhalf Morgan Parra to an early injury when McCaw's knee caught the side of his head after Parra was trapped underneath the ruck.

"We didn't appreciate the behaviour of their coach Graham Henry, of the captain Richie McCaw. They're still talking about Aurelien Rougerie's eye gouging on the basis of rather tendentious editing," Lievremont said.

"But when you see how McCaw behaved, notably with Morgan Parra ... I think they could have shown a bit more humility."

Lievremont felt France should have beaten a shaky New Zealand team - and raised questions about Joubert's refereeing decisions.

"We had some clues, we showed that by keeping the ball, by moving New Zealand about, they had problems getting back into position," Lievremont said. "If the referee had been consistent we could have drawn them into fouls, too."

Despite the All Blacks pack constantly backpedalling, and failing to roll away in the ruck during the closing stages, Joubert did not blow his whistle.

"We knew there would be a lot of pressure on his shoulders. I think he's an honest man who was influenced," Lievremont said.

"My regret is that, despite this refereeing which was, let's say, 'permissive,' we could have won. We created chances to score a try he couldn't have refused."

Lievremont felt the Australians also had "a referee who didn't always help them" in their semifinal loss to New Zealand.

"Everyone was eulogistic [about New Zealand], but I felt the Australians missed out," Lievremont said.

Lievremont, however, was touched by New Zealand's fans.

"I think there's a big difference between the behaviour of [New Zealand's] leaders and New Zealand's media, who put an enormous amount of pressure on the All Blacks' rivals, and the attitude of people in the street," Lievremont said.

"In the hearts of New Zealanders, France was already a special opponent and I think we won their respect. They never stopped encouraging us."

Lievremont, who has been replaced by Philippe Saint-Andre, still can't bear to watch the final.

"It's maybe the only match in four years I haven't watched again," he said. "It could open up wounds. There's a feeling of bitterness. We were so close to something huge, one of the biggest exploits in French sporting history."

Lievremont's own World Cup became a sideshow as he grew a thick moustache after losing a bet with his backroom staff.

"I saw people in New Zealand who were wearing a [fake] moustache and who applauded me perhaps a bit more than certain players," he said. "I think certain [players] didn't like that. That probably didn't help."

Tensions persisted between him and key players like flanker Imanol Harinordoquy during the tournament.

Lievremont's tough man-management was unconventional and unpopular.

"He cast the stone at us too often. When something goes wrong, we're all in the same boat," Harinordoquy said after the tournament. "I felt he was lost ... I won't miss him."

After the semifinal win over Wales, Lievremont was furious players defied a curfew to go out late into the night.

He called them "a bunch of undisciplined, spoilt brats, disobedient, sometimes selfish, always complaining, always whining, and they've been [frustrating me] for four years".

It was an astonishing outburst, although Lievremont still claims he meant affectionately.

However, he felt Harinordoquy was hypocritical for speaking out against him after the tournament.

"I consider him to be an intelligent guy with a big ego," Lievremont said. "I was surprised by his lack of sincerity, because he shook my hand right until the end. Even after the final he could have told me he didn't like me."


  • brian.heunis - 2011-11-19 07:44


      Bob - 2011-11-19 19:03

      sounds to me like sour grapes from a poor loser..........hes on the right website for it.

      Hot - 2011-11-21 09:22

      But they will be THE WORLD CHAMPS for the next 4 years !!! ALL BLACKS !!! WHAT A BEAUT !!!

  • Skhona Skratchy-l Luswazi - 2011-11-19 08:16

    He was paid like bryce lawrence to hand a troph to all blacks crooks

      Sean - 2011-11-19 08:47

      Stop smoking shoelaces ! Joubert did a good job !

      Chris - 2011-11-19 10:49

      There is a serious taint of ' Butt'

  • goyougoodthing - 2011-11-19 08:17

    Thanks, the Abs and Joubert conspired to win that one.

      Bob - 2011-11-19 19:00


  • mvangraan - 2011-11-19 08:30

    He is right, S.A would've won if it wasn't for Brice the Mice

      Zion - 2011-11-21 14:02

      'he' is delusional and living in a land a'la Alice. Forgive him: He knoweth not what he sayeth.

  • Pierre - 2011-11-19 08:50

    I have sympathy for France. They are a very strong tournament side, and have the best statistics of WC appearances, except NZ who equals them, but France lack a win out of 3 finals. NZ is not as strong a tournament side as on individual games; they keep on fading towards the end of a WC’s and 2011 was no exception. If it was not for home ground advantage, NZ would most probably have lost again. Just because NZ wins 80% + of their games outside the WC, does not mean they should be given victories in a world cup. It is always the best team on the day that should win. In 2011 there were penalties in the second half that could have gone France’s way, but it would be very difficult for any referee to give a possibly wining penalty against NZ, especially at Eden Park. Also NZ puts up such a fuss if the referee does not blow their way. Wayne Barnes is still very unfavourable in NZ because of the 2007 WC. NZ have that ability to scare referees, and although I think Joubert is a good referee, he was probably not immune to NZ pressure. One thing where rugby must get away from is the view that one team has to win. It must always the best team on the day, not the team that thinks they deserve it the most.

  • Dianne - 2011-11-19 09:24

    Monsieur Lievremont, welcome to the arrogant world that belongs to the AB's. Were you the only person who was not aware that the result was written in stone before the start of the World Cup. They were going to give it to the AB's whatever the cost, even if it took cheating to whole new level?

      Zion - 2011-11-21 12:25

      Mr Lievremont I hope you are beyond the level of petty conspiracy theories.

  • duane.vanvuuren - 2011-11-19 09:52

    There you have it! "They were faced with a very trying context because they absolutely had to win. I always thought they were there for the taking. I was more afraid of SOUTH AFRICA."...

      Haepy - 2011-11-19 15:00

      Oh, I understand now, because a coach said he was more afraid of SA, there you have it, you implying that SA would have won it... Let's not for a moment think that it's the 15 players on the field that actually need to win the match... Well I'm more afraid of snakes than crocodiles, does that make any one of them less dangerous?

      Thomas - 2011-11-19 21:06

      New Zealand scratched and battled to beat what must have been the worst French side in any WC!! The ABs could never match the Boks for mental toughness or physicality, by not resting players in the Tri Nations and all the counseling, they could handle any side exept the Boks, and they knew it!!!!!!!!!! Haepy for the reasons above it was the 15 players on the field that the ABs feared the most!!! they had been there and done it!!!!

      lindsay.amner - 2011-11-21 02:29

      New Zealand will always struggle to win rugby world cups because they are nearly always the best side in the world and therefore the favourites. Therefore every side that comes up against them goes on the field with absolutely nothing to lose. France and Australia are the most dangerous teams to the All Blacks in this regard because they have the ability to rise massively to the occasion and by throwing caution to the wind, can play scintillating rugby. South Africa are not such a threat to NZ as they tend to play the same way in big games and are less likely to change their play and run the ball with abandon. NZ showed what a good side they were in that they still managed to win in spite of France rising to the occasion and playing as if they had nothing to lose. In 1999, 2003 and 2007 the All Blacks lost when this happened. This time they were able to win.

      Bob - 2011-11-21 20:03


  • Chris - 2011-11-19 13:08

    Craig Joubert is and will always be a puppet and 'poephol'!

  • Kevin - 2011-11-19 21:22

    Thumbs up if you think saffas are blinded by their own arrogance!

      Loodpil - 2011-11-20 16:37

      Thumbs up if you think Kevin had a Freudian slip, and meant Kiwis.

  • Claud - 2011-11-20 20:55

    Sour Grapes!

  • Robert - 2011-11-21 10:13

    Joubert is to my mind the world's best at the moment but the final was far from a good performance. The sooner this cup be forgotten the better. 4 years of insufferable Kiwi arrogance to follow but as long as they sleep better at night. No one has ever challenged that they are consistently the world's best team but when it comes to RWC then no...

  • Zion - 2011-11-21 12:24

    What is rather interesting is when we divorce our perceptions of what goes on in the world and take in other perceptions such as that of the French coach. SA complains about Lawrence while France complains about Joubert. We complain louder and locally but has it not become clear that we are in a draw situation. Despite what the French coach says about the All Black attitude we had that same negative attitude prior to the RWC and some were blinded by it. Why should the AB's not display that attitude. So it was too with the Cricket world cup series which we lost. I realize there are those who are clamoring to delete this truth but If so then do it by all means it will not magically provide a RWC trophy nor one for soccer or the cricket.

  • jacquesalthea.knotter - 2011-12-13 10:16

    He is telling the truth the french were robbed.

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