France coach Marc Lievremont has given a very revealing press conference after his side’s defeat to Tonga and ahead of the quarter-final against England at Eden Park on Saturday.
On his thoughts after the defeat by Tonga on Saturday at Wellington: “I thought I had experienced everything in terms of shame. But this time round, it’s been an extremely violent feeling again. Each missed pass, each missed tackle, I took them as a deep personal failure.”
On his team regrouping: “I would have liked for us to gather around a few drinks yesterday, to talk, to share thoughts, to tell each other that it’s a beautiful adventure, all things considered. And I was disappointed. At the end of the press conference, I got us some beers to release the pressure. And we all split in different directions. It’s a kind of disappointment.”
On the divide affecting the group which has been denied by the staff: “For now, there is no divide in the group, even if it may look like it. I’m still waiting for some reaction from the players. It’s their choice if they do.”
On how he sees the rest of the tournament for his team: “Naturally, I am a fighter, I believe in the men, in a group who hopefully know how to pick themselves up. I have got experienced and talented players. But maybe not as talented as I thought.”
On his relationship with his players: “I’ve got respect for them and think highly of them, I talk to them openly. I think it is reciprocal even though I am under no illusions. We live in a society where image matters. I saw players with their agent on the eve and after the game instead of regrouping as a team.
“They have their career to manage, and perhaps the media to please. French rugby and players laughed at the French football players last year. But in some respect, we didn’t get off the bus either (in reference to the incident with the French football team at the last FIFA World Cup who returned to the team bus and refused to train after a fallout between coach Raymond Domenech and Nicolas Anelka).”
On the criticism he is getting: “For some, I might just be a ProD2 (Division Two) coach, absolutely not competent to train a team of the level of the national squad. Some compare me with Raymond Domenech. You must know that I have got an immense respect for him. He did fight. I know what that means and, I repeat, I have absolutely no intention to give up. I’ve got my share of responsibilities, but do you sincerely think that it is because of my management that we failed to be committed in the game? There is a lack of collective dynamism.”
On Thierry Dusautoir (FRA), who is being criticised about his captaincy: “I want to give Thierry Dusautoir a message. Only he is exemplary. He spends a lot of energy to mobilise his troops. He is heavily criticised. He should only focus on his performance.”