I should have kept my big mouth shut – Lievremont

2011-10-19 07:11

Auckland – France coach Marc Lievremont has said calling his players “spoilt brats” for going out on the town after their World Cup semifinal victory was a mistake.

Lievremont rounded on some of his squad members after the narrow 9-8 win over Wales last weekend, when he had expressly asked the team not to go out partying.

Several did, however, and Lievremont responded by going public with an acidic assessment of their actions.

“I told them what I thought of them, that they were spoilt brats, selfish, disobedient and that for four years they have been on my case,” he said on Sunday.

But Lievremont, speaking ahead of this Sunday’s final against New Zealand, admitted today he ought to have kept his thoughts to himself.

“I should have kept my big fat mouth shut when I saw myself quoted all over the front pages,” said Lievremont, whose public criticism of his squad has led to rumours of a split between management and players.

“I said those things in summing up their behaviour over the last four years and to put some pressure on them,” he said.

“We spoke about it. Above all, they need us to be as one.

“When you spend four months with 30 players, you can’t always be unanimous about things. I am not there to be my players’ friend but to lead them to the end.

“We’ve done that and I hope to go a little further still.”

Lievremont had previously justified his original remarks by recalling his experience as a France flanker in 1999 when the squad spent four days partying after reaching the World Cup final following a sensational win over the All Blacks, only to lose the showpiece match against Australia.

In what is fast becoming a media circus, former France captain Lionel Nallet took to the press conference stage just minutes after Lievremont had spoken today to say he had not liked his coach’s harsh words.

“I did not appreciate it at all but that is just my opinion,” Nallet, the first France captain of Lievremont’s four-year reign as coach, said.

“We already knew that the week was going to be complicated enough so perhaps there was no reason to add to that pressure,” the lock explained.

“Quite truthfully, I did not like what he said. I do not want to go on about it. We have a final to play and we are not going to be focusing on things like this,” he added, as France centre Aurelien Rougerie took a swipe at journalists for “judging the team”.

Lievremont also could not resist having a dig at long-serving France team manager Jo Maso, who won the toss for choice of kit colours in the final but opted to allow New Zealand to wear their all-black strip when they run out at Eden Park.

That means France will, instead of their normal blue, play in their all-white away kit.

“I’m sure some of my players feel sorry about that,” Lievremont said.

“They would obviously have wanted to deprive the All Blacks of their preferred playing kit.”

But he added the issue of team colours was just a minor detail.

“We could be in pink and them in purple and it would still be France versus New Zealand.”

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