France on edge after Italy defeat - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

France on edge after Italy defeat

14/03/2011 02:33:57 PM Comments (0)

French supporters could be excused for fearing their rugby side is headed for a similar World Cup nightmare to the one experienced by their football team last year.

The Tricolours hopes for this year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand are in disarray following their 22-21 defeat by Italy in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Certainly like former France football manager Raymond Domenech, rugby coach Marc Lievremont looks to have lost the dressing room after his unprecedented and blunt remarks about the players following the historic defeat in Rome.

Domenech was sacked after presiding over a disastrous Football World Cup campaign in South Africa that saw his players boycott a training session before they were eliminated at the group stage.

Domenech made his coaching comeback last November, at the helm of an under-11s team from a suburb west of Paris.

With the start of the Rugby World Cup just six months away France's chances of at last winning the title seem slight at best.

"They are lacking in courage. They are good guys but cursed with what is obviously cowardice," said Lievremont.

"They betrayed us, they have betrayed me and they have betrayed the French national team shirt."

"In terms of the tactics deployed, it defied belief. I did not recognise anything in their performance that we had worked on.

"Do you really think that I told them to play as they did against Italy? I was ashamed. I do not have the impression we asked them to walk on the moon. I do not ask for complicated things.

"This match was an hallucination. I do not want to absolve myself of blame but they invented things on the pitch."

Humiliating defeats away last summer against Argentina and world champions South Africa could just about be put down to post Grand Slam and Top 14 fatigue but the 59-16 home defeat by Australia last November suggested that there was something very wrong.

Lievremont, whose coaching experience was with low-profile club Dax and the French Under-21 side, refused to reconsider his position and decided instead to take on a more hands on approach than he had previously as he had left a lot of responsibility to backs coach Emile Ntamack and scrum handler Didier Retiere.

Opening wins over Scotland and then in Dublin against Ireland - the latter a rather fortunate one - and an honourable defeat to England looked as if the confidence was returning to the players but the Italy match shattered any illusion of that being the case.

"Can we still win the World Cup? We will see," replied wing Vincent Clerc, one of only three players to earn any praise from Lievremont after the match.

"The damage has been considerable, along with Australia, that makes it two heavy defeats, and this one (Italy) is maybe even one harder to digest.

"How do we rebound from this? That is going to be very important how we work out how to do so."

Lievremont's position appears to be safe as he received the support of the French Federation president Pierre Camou after the Italy defeat.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news