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The madness of coach Marc

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Tom Fordyce | 11:35 UK time, Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Auckland, North Island

They say there's a thin line between genius and madness. If that's true, France coach Marc Lievremont has spent this World Cup tip-toeing along it like his compatriot Philippe Petit in Man On Wire.

On one hand he has steered an underperforming French side to their first World Cup final in 12 years. On the other he has done so while spitting out the sort of insults that normally start wars.

In a moment, the question of whether the latter has made the former possible. Before then, a little reminder of Marc's most barking bon mots.

To French journalist after pool stage loss to All Blacks: "Go to hell with your question. I really regret the detestable atmosphere that we have at these press conferences."

After pool stage defeat by Tonga: "I thought I had experienced everything in terms of shame. But this time around, it's been an extremely violent feeling again. Each missed pass, each missed tackle, I took them as a deep personal failure."

On his attempts at team-building: "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. I saw players with their agent on the eve [of the match] and after the game instead of regrouping as a team. It's a kind of disappointment."

After defeat by Italy in the Six Nations: "I'm at a bit of a dead end. I feel like I'm responsible for this, but the players lack courage. There is a certain cowardice. When I talk to them, nothing happens.

"They betrayed us, they have betrayed me and they have betrayed the French national team shirt. Do you really think I told them to play like that? They weren't asked to walk on the moon."

On former England hooker Mark Regan: "He was ridiculous and grotesque. His behaviour is offensive and against the rules. He is a clown."

After beating England in the quarter-finals: "Yesterday we had the same players out there as in Wellington against Tonga, except that they grew a big pair of balls."

After some players went out drinking following their win over Wales: "I told them they are a bunch of spoiled brats. Undisciplined, disobedient, sometimes selfish. Always complaining, always moaning. It has been like this for four years."

France's head coach Marc Lievremont

Marc Lievremont has enjoyed a colourful and testy relationship with the world's media. Photo: Getty

If it's a joy to read, it's also a rather unusual tactic. Are Lievremont's outbursts part of a cunning grand strategy, or - like his burgeoning Dick Dastardly moustache - the sign of a man who simply doesn't care what the world thinks of him any more?

Former All Black Mike Clamp has lived in France for the last 25 years. "The typical Frenchman walks around with his chest puffed out, like he owns the world," he told the New Zealand Herald, perhaps unconsciously apeing Lievremont's approach. "It's a terrible way to express oneself.

"In response, the best way to play them is to kick them up the backside. Coaches here would rant, rave and scream at players. They'd say 'you're useless!' and individuals would thrive on the negativity, happy to feel like the worst guy in the world. The French like to prove a guy wrong."

Lievremont was asked again about those "spoiled brats" comments as he unveiled his starting XV for Sunday's final. Typically, he did not hold back.

"I said these things to try to put pressure on the players, to motivate them," he admitted. "But when I read my words in the written press, I realised I might have been better keeping my big fat mouth shut.

"Obviously it was humour. I said it affectionately. The players are real pains, but they're lovable."

Now for the question of whether his maverick approach has paid dividends. France manager Jo Maso, who has seen four different head coaches come and go during his time with the national team, is in no doubt.

"Marc Lièvremont is the best France coach I have worked with," he says.

"He is a little unusual as the coach because he always tells the truth, and sometimes that can be quite painful for those who don't like that approach.

"If a player has a bad game, Marc will not hesitate to criticise and that perhaps does not always make him popular. It may look like confrontation but it is not really. It is just honesty. He is very generous with his praise also but sometimes that is forgotten.

"Most coaches like to say the 'right' thing but Marc does not hide the truth, he likes everything out in the open. He also has a sense of humour that perhaps they do not understand."

Unfortunately not all the players seem to agree. Moments after Lievremont had finished his news conference on Wednesday, second row Lionel Nallet sat down in the same seat.

"I did not appreciate it at all," he said, when asked about his coach's latest outburst.
"We already knew that the week was going to be complicated enough so perhaps there was no reason to add to that pressure. Quite truthfully, I did not like what he said."

Marc Lievremont with some of the French squad

Not all of the French squad have enjoyed or appreciated Lievremont's outspoken style. Photo: Getty

Lievremont has had his successes with France, leading the team to the Grand Slam in 2010 and a win over the All Blacks in New Zealand the year before. So how do his fellow countrymen back home feel about what he's done over here?

"Lievremont has of course come in for a lot of criticism - from fans as well as journalists," says Hugh Schofield, of the BBC's Paris bureau.

"It has not exactly been a shining World Cup. But there is still a deep affection for him. It is inconceivable that he could suffer the utter public contempt that former France football manager Raymond Domenech had to endure.

"The Wales match here is seen as a shocker, which Wales should obviously have won. But it was not a humiliation, and the French showed grit to the end."

"Fans do question his judgements," says Philippe Segers, a Parisian management consultant and rugby fanatic. "But they still like him. They like the way he talks - his plain-speaking. He is part of the rugby family. He has rugby values.

"My personal view of Lievremont is that he is not the greatest of trainers. He was appointed because he was a much-loved guy. His nomination was very popular in rugby circles. I don't think he ever had a real strategy, but I think he actually is the right person in the job."

On Wednesday Lievremont was frequently at his contrary best.

"There seem to be a lot of people here today," was his opening gambit. "There must be something going on at the weekend."

Asked about his team's stodgy playing style, he was defiant. "If we have to play the same way as we did against Wales to win the World Cup, then we will."

But would that work against the All Blacks? "I don't think so, no."

Do not rule out another spectacular outburst before Sunday's final.

"Although we're playing the All Blacks in the World Cup final, usually I'm a very spontaneous person," he said happily, "so I haven't prepared anything specific to talk to the players."

Shoot from the cuff, Marc. We're all listening.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Completely bonkers.

  • Comment number 2.

    The guy is hilarious in a way that only a French coach could be. Seems to me he'd be incredibly happy being a coach if only the damn players and games didn't get in the way.

    This French run reminds me a bit of the 2007 England team's run to the final. I'd also say it reiterates everything I think about world cup rugby. It doesn't matter how many games you lose in the group stages as long as you get through, it doesn't matter how you play in the knock out stages as long you win and if you win the world cup all previous criticism and doubt will melt away.

  • Comment number 3.

    Aw - you've got to love him. Surely it's better to be honest than talk in the tired cliches of the modern player/coach? I'm fed up with the usual "It was a hard game, but the boys pulled through, so we've put this bad performance behind us and we're totally focussed on the next game now"?

  • Comment number 4.

    It would also be interesting to note that if France (and it's a big IF) win on Sunday it would make three coachs in a row that have led their team to world cup wins and then left the team afterwards.

    Would make it seem like the worst career move you can make!

  • Comment number 5.

    haha - love it! How I wish MJ would have spoken like this a couple of times, and quite frankly should've given the team a bit of a bashing over the course of the RWC.

    Oh well, I'm just hoping for a great game for the final, can never see France winning this one - but on their day, and maybe the pressure getting to the all blacks, a miracle might happen! The all blacks deserve to win, but so did Wales in the semi

  • Comment number 6.

    Lievremont is perhaps a naive anachronism, harking back to an era of different sporting values. I think that comes out in some of the blog-qoutes. In my experience as 'un rosbif' living in France and near a rugby-mad town (Brive), the people like Lievremont and suspect that the motives of some of his players reflect a 'professionalism' that seems more appropriate to artists (agents, commercial deals). Of course this is the face of pro-RU, hence the anachronism. Lievremont saw what many in France saw, that Sebastien Chabal had become an icon first, 'un rugby-man' second.

    I hope France win.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think the only way France will win is if the All Blacks wear England shirts!

  • Comment number 8.

    It really would not surprise me if the French won this match. In big games in the past they have had the All Blacks number. If allowed to play their expansive game the favourites could be in trouble. As an Englishman I hope they don't but as a Rugby fan I hope it's a great game with the best team winning

  • Comment number 9.

    Allez les bleus!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Its ironic how Lievremont chooses his last three games as the only time to pick the same team in successive matches. An end to the madness perhaps...Although as a frenchman, I can only see an All Blacks victory.

  • Comment number 11.

    Let's hope we'll have a wonderful game.

    No matter who, in France, we all have a huge respect to the ABs.

  • Comment number 12.

    It'll be a good final. Either we'll have a new champion, or who could honestly begrudge NZ finally vanquishing their demons and claiming a second title after dominating world rugby for the past decade?

    NZ are in a rich vein of form, bags of experience, have the players across the paddock and the benchmark coaching set up. If France pull off a win, they'll have to play like demons and will deserve their victory.

    I predict rugby will be the winner on the day. Just what a world cup should be about.

  • Comment number 13.

    At number 7 (sgunner):
    It's funny you say that, because the irony is that England's away strip was all black...

  • Comment number 14.

    Wow pressure is mounting, cannot wait for Sunday. I have a good feeling about this game. Logic says we will lose, the world says we will lose. I believe the players should find inspiration in that, because really we have nothing to lose. It is the ABs which have everything to lose. Pressure is going to be huge on them, the expectation of a nation. They probably deserve it, but this does not matter. This game is the opportunity for France to show why they are in the final. I think it will be a much closer game than a lot of people think it will. Allez la France

  • Comment number 15.

    The man is bonkers. I said before the quarter final that this world cup was very much like the football world cup. It didn't matter how bad we were playing, at least the French were doing worse...........

    Anyway as for the final I think it will be horribly one-sided. If it is then this may go down as the poorest world cup (opinions??). Not many great games, not many tries of note and probably goign to be remembered for 'Well if Rolland hadn't robbed Wales...."

    The only real positive i've gotten from this World cup is maybe the tier 2 and 3 sides are actually improving. Samoa and Tonga putting in decent performances but also Romania pushing Scotland, Georgia and USA doing fairly well and Canada putting up a decent fight. Sadly Samoa don't have ther funding to go into the tri-nations. Argentina badly need to and hopefully some funding in the US and Canada could get them to Italy's level come 2015?

  • Comment number 16.

    @15 wirral18 have to agree. Even if we saw some huge games this weekend overall this world cup has been poor in comparison to whats gone before. Very possibly the worst ever.

    Big exciting games well maybe Wales v Ireland other than that the quarters were a damp squib. In the group stages none of the big games really stood out as exciting even Ireland v Australia was more about the result than the game. In the semis France v Wales was probably the dullest game of rugby I've seen in a long time and Australia didn't provide too much challenge, though the standard of playwas far higher than in most other games.

    I have to say the most exciting game I've seen all tournament was Canada v Japan.

  • Comment number 17.

    Also to follow on have the 2nd/3rd tier nations really done that well? Yep Tonga v France was a huge result and Samoa did well, Romania came close to a very poor Scotland but other than that I've just got memory of thrashing after thrashing. What will Russia or Namabia take from this tournament?

    I don't know maybe I'm just being pessimistic but overall this hasn't been a patch on 2007.

  • Comment number 18.

    07, yet another cheap shot, what has France vs NZ articule got to do with England. Grow up and find yourself a little playmate. I for one hope, France turn the AB's over. North vs South.

  • Comment number 19.

    I love all the "He's bonkers" posts. Really. The concept of madness in France (La folie) is subtly different to the English equivalent. 'He's bonkers' almost works as a termof endearment in English. In French, there's always a pathological undertone. In case anyone wished to know that.

    Allez les bleus.

    Can't help wandering if Warren Gatland ( had caught a whiff of 'la folie' after the French game.

  • Comment number 20.

    wirral 18, the worst tournament for England supporters probably. For everyone else it has been fine.

  • Comment number 21.

    Brutally entertaining to boorish and boring, France/Lievermont in a tee. Think they are possibly the worst team to reach a RWC Final, I hope they don't win it but wouldn't be surprised if they did, they must surely have one big performance in them....surely, they must.......

  • Comment number 22.

    "16. At 15:19 19th Oct 2011, TheLastKingofEngland wrote:
    @15 wirral18 have to agree. Even if we saw some huge games this weekend overall this world cup has been poor in comparison to whats gone before. Very possibly the worst ever."

    Haha! Love it.

    What makes it the worst ever in your opinion? The lack of 10 man rugby? Or the way NZ managed to avoid food poisoning and Wayne Barnes didn't get to knock NZ out this time around? Or when you say "worst ever" are you *just* referring to Jonny Wilkinson's kicking?

  • Comment number 23.


    It's an interesting one. Can I see myself cheering on the French. Won't be able to answer that till Sunday morning. On the one hand is the engrained belief that I will be happy if the French are unhappy but on the other hand it would be nice for all the Southern Hemisphere lot to stop slating the 6 Nations and believing they are far superior.


    It's very hard to analyse the 2nd tier nation's overall performances. I would say they have come on since 2007 as most of the tries against them tend to have come in the last 20mins. Lots of games have been (fairly) tight at half time which tends to suggest that the ability is nearly there but the fitness and depths of squads definitely aren't.

  • Comment number 24.


    Dont waste your breath kid. England fans must never criticise other nations.......... ever.

    The same is not applicable vice versa............

  • Comment number 25.

    16, I agree, the best match of RWC, was Canada and Japan. Both teams played there hearts out. Could be said about all the lower ranked teams. Enjoyed USA vs Russia as well. Of all the hype about the big matches, none of them really captured your full attention.

  • Comment number 26.

    "07, yet another cheap shot, what has France vs NZ articule got to do with England. Grow up and find yourself a little playmate. I for one hope, France turn the AB's over. North vs South."

    How about this - which ever team loses, they can't sink as far down the ratings as England have? Is that enough of a correlation?

  • Comment number 27.

    p.s grey goat

    You have been very quiet till now.

    Is this because you wanted to wait until the AB's got to the final?

    Insecure were we?

    Worried they may choke?

    Still time kid!

  • Comment number 28.

    24. Sorry forgot that golden rule.

  • Comment number 29.

    Sadly I think that no matter how many cliched comments of "you never know which French team will turn up," everyone knows this is going to go down as the most one sided final in the history of the WC. It's a shame as I think some of the games have been excellent (for action most of those involving Ireland and Wales but the All Blacks have played some sublime rugby).

    I hate to say it but referees have had a hand in killing this WC in the later stages, New Zealand should have had the path of South Africa and Wales...although I'm fairly convinced they would still have won.

  • Comment number 30.


    Get your anti-english hat off. I am not saying this from an English fans perspective (although it has been appalling from our team), I am saying it from a rugby fan who waits for this every 4 years. Like i said in my original post, what exciting games can you recall?? Hardly any decent tries of note during any of the 'bigger' games.

    And who may I ask do you support?? Scotland were terrible, Ireland put on one big performance but the game was actually dull. Wales nearly got put out by Samoa and Oz and SA have gone out without much of a bang. Like I said from a rugby fan's point of view I think if the final is one-sided this will be the most forgettable world cup of all time.

  • Comment number 31.

    Nah smackeyes, I was in the air. Thought I'd better fly home to watch Richie hoist the cup in person.

  • Comment number 32.


    Actually quite nice to see your comments, miss 606 do you?

  • Comment number 33.

    "Hardly any decent tries of note during any of the 'bigger' games."

    Ironic from a fan of a team that won in 2003 only managing a single try in the entire tournament against 1st tier nations.

    I suspect it may be the view through your rose tinted glasses that has distracted you from enjoying the games. France v England was a cracker! as was Ireland v Australia, Wales v Ireland, NZ v Tonga, NZ v France, NZ v Canada, France v Tonga, SA v Australia, SA v Wales.

    The cup has certainly put the borefest of 2007 in the shade, and in terms of teams worthy of hoisting the title, both finalists are more deserving than the limited sides we saw fight out any contest since 1995.

  • Comment number 34.

    @32 - will smackeyes it seems most of the Kiwi posters were pre-emptively banned from 606v2 by some of the more precious moderators when it was obvious England were going home and NZ were going to the final.

  • Comment number 35.


    Never bothered with that site mate. Usedd to use 606 because it was available at work and it satisfied my cravings for winding folk up. People seemed to have thicker skins on there. On these blogs people just get upset and angry or report you to the moderators. Half of my posts get lifted these days.

    Bit sad if they did that on v2 like

  • Comment number 36.

    I think you are looking at this patriotically as you don't want the NZ World Cup to be completely forgotten.

    I never said 2003 was exciting but it will always be remembered as it took a last second drop goal to win it. I will remember 2007 as the one where Argentina burst onto the rugby scene and beat the hosts in the opening game. The French passion after putting out the favourites in the quarters is also very memorable.

    As for this year; Referring decisions. Unless of course the final is exciting.

  • Comment number 37.

    wirral 18, i am just pointing out that maybe your opinion of the tournament is slightly coloured by the fact that your team had their worst perfomance for many years.

    I did not enjoy 07 at all but as a NZ fan maybe I am biased!

    This tournament hasn't been that bad - the pool stages were definitely the most interesting they have ever been and the most attacking teams progressed to the semis. Neither semi was a try fest and there have been lots of games that you couldn't predict beforehand (including the final!)

  • Comment number 38.

    If they play the same way they did against Wales to "win the World Cup" then they might as well just go back to France now. Only reason that worked was their "Guardian Angel", or as most of the rugby speaking world call him Alain Rolland, sent off Warburton.

    Fact is, they cant go out and not play, and they have to be positive, but as the heading says about madness, i'd have to agree... and unfortunatly for France, this isnt Sparta.

    France will be defeated by 20+ points. Afterwards maybe the IRB will get some sense at put Wales v New Zealand together, this is a spectator sport, and lets face it, there's scarecly a rugby fan on the planet who doesnt want to see that.

  • Comment number 39.

    @35 - yep, a lot of folk can dish it out and not take it. 606v2 is currently over-run by English fans, who've suddenly found French ancestry inciting NZ to lose in the final and playing the old discredited "pacific island poacher" card. It's pretty sad stuff really.

  • Comment number 40.


    Cant understand why some on here are saying this WC has been s$$t, i've really enjoyed it even as an England fan.

    Thought it pointed out that there is not such a divide between the SH teams and NH teams personally.

    NZ are obviously better than most at present but hey ho all can and will change in four years, cant wait. And to think theres a lions tour soon too.

  • Comment number 41.

    A couple of notes for people attacking our Kiwi cousin’s slightly defensive support of RWC 2011.
    1) It’s lost them the thick end of $40 million to host. It’s impertinent to then slag it off when it’s cost them so much.
    2) They haven’t been to a final for a while so it’s a bit of a novel experience for them.

  • Comment number 42.


    Good to see our country's generosity has not been lost on everybody.

    If they sort out the scheduling debacle then England 2015 will be the best yet.

  • Comment number 43.

    Got to disagree with those suggesting this WC has been boring. Even though Scotland didn't make the quarters, I've enjoyed the games, from the near disaster of the Romania game through to the drama of the semis. I can only think that those complaining are disappointed at England's earlyish (but not as early as us) exit. Jesus, in 2007 we had 4 teams in the semis desperately trying to avoid playing rugby, and hoping they could capitalise on opponents mistakes. At least this year, 3 of those teams went out in the 1/4s playing exactly the same way.

  • Comment number 44.

    Best tournament is far ~ 1995, and the mighty Lomu, who literally ran over all opposition in his path, except for the final. Hope in the end, whoever wins, it will be a game to remember. have France got a master plan or are they going to suffer the same fate as other opponents so far.

  • Comment number 45.

    There's been no shortage of "quality" rugby in this world cup, i.e. plenty of attacking play AND good old-fashioned trench warfare - the essence of rugby, wouldn't you say? You are right Ozjock, three of the most negative teams went out in the quarters, but I would contend that it was actually four of the negative teams (Ireland included). Trouble is, the most negative team of the whole WC is now in the final, and I don't mean NZ...

    Unfortunately from the neutral's point of view both semis were disappointing and rather boring to watch, with the very notable exception of the first 20 minutes of NZ-Aus and the remarkable exploits of Jane and Dagg.

    Hoping the final will be better.

  • Comment number 46.


    I played rugby union up to the early 70s, and sad to say the style we played then was totally different from what's on offer today at the Championship in NZ. You could be forgiven for mistaking what's on offer today for RUGBY LEAGUE.

    The free running rugby of yesteryears aren't there any more. There's an element of danger in both codes but back then League was definitely more contact and head-on with no quarters taken or given.

    Union was for where you displayed free-running, dummies and shere speed where you could switch from one side of the field to another, more like the IRB World Sevens series we have today; a joy to watch !!

    Watch the Sevens in YouTube and see for youself - especially Ryder and Serevi of the Fiji Sevens.

  • Comment number 47.

    As I make it, Australia tried the aerial game and it failed. Argentina tried to slow the game and grind through the forwards, and that failed, France tried to out run NZ in the pool and that failed, Tonga tried a punch holes by probing for weaknesses across the defensive line and that failed.

    To beat this NZ side, they'll need to bring a balanced and focused game for the full 80 minutes, steal enough ball from the lineout, kick for territory and into touch, force mistakes at the set piece, and execute their chances clinically in whatever form they appear - long range penalties, drop goals, counter-attacking strikes, or through leveraging any scrummaging opportunities close to the line.

    They'll also have to win the breakdown - and legally with the eagle eyed and consistent Joubert adjudicating, keep composure in defense and scramble well when one of NZ's game breakers beat the first line.

    If anyone can do it, France have the weapons in all facets.

    I do wonder if they'll try on their Hollywood play acting to milk another card, or a few penalties this week. A particularly distasteful trend that they seem to be the masters of.

  • Comment number 48.

    Re Lievremont, my view is he inherited a pool of very talented players 4 years ago and they have actually done him proud on the whole (grand slam 2010, now in the RWC final) but this has come in spite or rather than thanks to his coaching.

    His real legacy can be seen in the losses - Tonga in the pool game, the 60-point thrashing by Australia last year, the hammering at Twickenham 2009 to name but a few.

    No amount of Cantona-esque declarations to the press can cover up his inadequacies as a coach or the French federation's foolishness in choosing him.
    Philippe St Andre, however, might actually make France into a great team and a very frightening prospect...

  • Comment number 49.

    The Pink Cock!!! he's the Inspector Clueseau of French Rugby

  • Comment number 50.

    Dick Dasterdly ; pricelss nice one

    i just dont think he is a maverick, ironic, clever, funny . he is just well Marc Lievremont
    not so sure he is a great coach, i mean France have continued being France haven't they?
    brilliant one minute, awful the next,

    some things just are, and thats the wqy i like it,

    he entertains us,
    are you not entertianed ?

  • Comment number 51.

    "I do wonder if they'll try on their Hollywood play acting to milk another card, or a few penalties this week. A particularly distasteful trend that they seem to be the masters of."

    True, that and cynically putting the knee into try-scorers, drives me nuts. Deserves a yellow.

  • Comment number 52.

    By the way, enjoyed The madness of coach Marc, personal view after watching many French internationals over the years ~ Marc Lievremont is a genius and mad as a box of frogs.

  • Comment number 53.

    This 'terrible World Cup' was worth it just to see Gatland's bitter face. He pretty much used this cheating story as a way of having another go at Alain Rolland, like he had some kind of moral superiority. Days after the match, and when most people accept it was a red card, still going on like a sore loser. Unlucks Gats, unlucks :)

  • Comment number 54.

    Mike Clamp's comment is hardly the basis for comment. Jesus BBC!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Are the All Blacks as big a favourites for this game as they were for the 1999 World Cup semi-final at Twickenham? And have France played as poorly in this World Cup as they did in the lead up to that match?

  • Comment number 56.

    There's a bit of a chicken and egg question here: the French coach is nuts therefore the French turn in ridiculously inconsistent performances? I'd say the fact that the French team were turning-in ridiculously inconsistent performances before Lievremont was out of short trousers hints that, maybe, the French team have driven him nuts and he deserves our sympathy for enduring what must be a mind-boggling roller-coaster ride!

    ...Personally, the bloke is growing on me!

  • Comment number 57.


    Yes the ABs were huge favourites in 99, they were awesome. France on the other hand were playing very badly, unconvincing victories agaist canada, fidji and argentina in QF. It looks strikingly similar this time around. I watched the 99 game again yesterday and my god it is probably the greatest rugby game ever. The ABs were going through their moves, 2 lomu tries 24-10, it looked easy....Then all of a sudden, 2 penalties, 2 drops goals and France was back into it. Then the ABs completely exploded with 2 of the best french tries in WC history. They turn the game in 15 minutes. An absolutely amazing game by france, the ABs did not know where it came from but it was brutal.
    It shows me it can be done...

  • Comment number 58.

    Also, those Englishmen saying 07 was better - I'm disappointed we're out too, but don't embarrass yourself lads! The 07 WC was the birth of the 'arial ping pong' era and had some truly awful matches (as much as I admire Argentina's and England's heart and grit in that tournament, any tournament where sides that limited get to the final/semi final respectively cannot be deemed to have been a spectacular one!!).

    There's been some dross in this World Cup - mostly served-up in pool B - but IMO it has been broadly of a higher standard of more attack-minded rugby than 07

  • Comment number 59.

    speaking as a Frenchman but have lived in England since the mid 60s,I'm watching all the build up to the final with great interest and enthusiasm especially the spotlight on Marc Lievremont and to put it lightly his unorthodox methods and there have been times when he's given a press conference and I've just cringed or hidden behind the settee but he's got France to a World Cup Final how I don't know but he has so hats off to him in that respect.Obviously the ABs are favourites but I know this has been brought up so many times as a cliche the only thing predictable about the French team is their unpredictability so if the god of rugby has got a sense of humour and is slighty bonkers France will win the final Allez les bleus mes amis

  • Comment number 60.

    He's been a strange fish over the years, with the typical gallic views on life (like Cantona).

    I feel he was given the job too early, like Martin Johnson, and he was too close to some of the squad to earn respect as a manager when the going got tough.

    But he has blooded a lot of players, who are nearly all capable of stepping up to the plate in an international team. This means that Fra are able to hold their own in a demanding tournament as they have true strength in depth across the squad (and back at home in reserve), just like NZ and SA.

  • Comment number 61.

    France will win the World Cup, anyway. That's all it matters, in the end !!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Have to agree with you. This has been a worderful world cup so far... both on and off the field. This has been helped by the competition being held in a rugby orientated country.
    It's obvious that those bashing it are sour because their team failed to shine themselves in glory on and off the field;-)

  • Comment number 63.

    29, Sim: I think you've said it all. Still, I'll hold thumbs for France - albeit with every expectation of being massively disappointed. Mad, cuckoo, gaga, stark, staring bonkers: they offer the only available antidote to the robotic, muscle-bound, bash-up-the-middle fare which modern professional rugby and its legislators conspire towards.
    61, phillipesella: as I said...!

  • Comment number 64.

    yes Bonkers as another poster wrote......But great compare this with the Schoolmaster superior approach of Ted or the mono-salabtic tones of MJ..

    He is a live wire and nuts he was also a damn good player in my view...long may it last..well at least for one more game...If he pulls it off, he can't can he, he will be another French Hero and there are plenty of them...:)

  • Comment number 65.

    I think he's good for the game. Certainly brings a breath of fresh air to press conferences. I mean, an interview with Graham Henry is pretty boring. I hope both teams turn up with their "A" games. It'll be the perfect way to end what's been a great tournament overall.

  • Comment number 66.

    Noah... i'm sure there is quite a bit of humour going on with the Leivremont that is lost in the translation.
    I actually like Henry for his dead pan face and wry humour... unlike Hansen who I think really is grumpy.

  • Comment number 67.


    Why are you so bitter mate...Can't we have one blog without your nasty anti English raves please?

    I have been to 5 RWCs INMO

    1991 Awoke the mass English population to England rugby as not so Elitist
    1995 was the best for the rugby
    2003 Changed my view of Australians for ever they were bloody great in defeat
    2007 the worst in my view in terms of rugby
    2011 Easily the best, 99% of the time, in terms of patronage and shear enthusiasm off the field. Rugby ok in parts.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hiya porridge: Whenever Henry twists his face into a scowl it makes me grimace! Best interviews I've seen have been from Kirwan, and his New Age gobbledygook.

  • Comment number 69.


    Yes me too he is good for the game and Porridge this is getting scary I agree with you again :0 ......I think quite a lot is lost in translation but he is bonkers what a great old English word that is :)

  • Comment number 70.

    Hi Churguys: i agree with your views on the quality of the WCs. One concern I have is the continued lack of strength of the game worldwide. In some places it seems line it's going backwards. While I love the color the Pacific teams brought to this WC none of them got out of the pools. Teams like Japan showed they could only keep up with a top side for around 55-60 mins then they fell apart in the final 10.

    I know only 8 teams have won the football WC but it's fair to say the quality of football is very strong globally. That's what rugby has to aim for. No good having only 2-3 teams realistically capable of winning it. Only end up like rugby league's mockery of a WC!

  • Comment number 71.

    Back to the final, what impresses me most about Yachvili and Parra is how compact they play. Few mistakes, they don't do too much but what they do is usually very accurate. They're a good combination.

  • Comment number 72.

    Parra is doing well, he might be the one to watch, he is kicking well and making good choices. I always liked Yachvili, he is a very clever player. The two of them work well together, they will be key in this game.

  • Comment number 73.

    Frenchguy74, I wouldn't be surprised if they try and cut loose on the inside channels on Sunday. McCaw and Read have a tendency to go too wide in defence sometimes. Little guys (relatively speaking) like Parra and Yachvili can exploit that or even run hard at Cruden.

  • Comment number 74.

    The French half back pairing have been good. France have a good kicking game and their backrow is one of the best.
    No disrespect to Wales, there was no guarantee that if Warburton had not been sent off Wales would have gone on to win... yes they had opportunity to win should probably have won... but I have would like to pick up on something that Thierry Lacroix said on the Reunion programme the other night. He felt that the sending off knocked France off their stride and they went must win mode to must not lose mode.
    France are a very proud rugby nation and should be feared and respected... something that may be lost on the one eyed fan, but certainly not by the AB camp themselves.

  • Comment number 75.

    The only way the French will win is by fielding fifteen Welsh players.

  • Comment number 76.

    I am certain that the French have a much better chance in this game than the Welsh would have had.....No direspect to Wales but I am convinced about this

  • Comment number 77.

    You can only read the tournament as you see it. For me typically the group stages formed into 3 types
    Big team v little team thrashing - not much interest a la New Zealand v Tonga, South Africa v Namibia, England v Romania
    Big team v big team overcautious games one side ecked out a win - not much interest a la Ireland v Australia, England v Scotland
    little team v little team - typically the best games a la Canada v Japan

    Come knock out stages we had England v France - dull as France stacked their defence and England fluffed their attacks, Wales v Ireland - good game, New Zealand v Argentina - dull ever present feeling that it was always one sided, Australia v South Africa - OK game essentially decided by the ref. Come the semis we had Wales v France - contentious sending off aside this game really had nothing of interest, worst game I saw in the whole tournament, New Zealand v Australia - OK decent forwards battle but nothing to get too excited by.

    2007 was not the best world cup but it when you had games like Wales v Fiji (especially this one name me one game this tournament that has lived up to this?), New Zealand v France, France v Argentina and South Africa v Tonga it was certainly better than this one.

  • Comment number 78.

    You are obviously a hard guy to please. This tournament has been the best to date on and off the field.
    If England RFU and IRB learn and built the positives they have seen in this tournament then it should be another great spectacle. The organisers of this years tournament have done a fantastic job... apart from handful of blowout match most games have been competative and surely that is what was wanted.

  • Comment number 79.

    Porridge, I agree with Lacroix. They were doing everything they could to not lose. What the sending off exposed was Wales' naivete. Give them a few more years and they'll be mentally stronger. And Warburton will be more shrewd too.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'd have to agree with those above that this world cup hasn't been great so far, but I think a close game on Sunday with a French win and all of that will be forgotten by history.

    Allez les bleus.

  • Comment number 81.

    Dare I say it wales's naiveté was very similar to the ABs in that QF of 2007. I note that they are kicking drop goals this time around......And it is good to see. they I think, gee I hope this does sound patronizing it is not meant to be, have grown up somewhat :) off to lunch, oo I know it's a tough job :)

  • Comment number 82.

    I think that what the French need to win is a little luck, a little bit of pressure, and a cool, calm, Yachvili delivering penalties from the halfway line a la versus England.

    Think back to all the hype in NZ before their pool match. If Yachvili or Parra can get one in from the halfway line in the first 10 minutes and put France ahead, I reckon New Zealand will start to crack, and we all know what happens when the All Blacks crack against Les Bleus...

  • Comment number 83.

    Lol churguys absolutely NZ was naive! That's what happens when you have no Plan B!

    Not too sure about the growing up bit, after seeing that IV with Ali Williams and SBW yesterday. Apparently they're on six figure salaries...:-)

  • Comment number 84.

    It'll be a bullfight between the front rows. No question, Poux, Servat and Mas are world class. Ours are pretty handy too. I can't see either front row getting the upper hand. Their technique is too good.

  • Comment number 85.

    As a Rugby fan first, and an England fan second this WC has been, good, as was 2007, and 2003 (didnt watch anybefore that so cant really comment). All for completely different reasons though. 03 I feel needs not be explained. 07 was excellent to see my team reach the final after being written off. (I think if your team does well it can overshadow poor performances, but a win is the most important thing right?)
    Dispite Engalnd perfromances I have enjoyed this WC. Winning the group was our high point. But as for the other games Japan v Canada was excellent, Russia v USA, Argentina V ABs, France v Tonga.......
    It seems everyone wants something different, "part time" rugby fans want loads of tires and a spectacle, real fan get excited by the tightest of games. I all honesty I would rather see games won by 3 or 5 points then teams constatly winning 66, 87+:0. Where is the contest in that?
    As for scoring tries.....thats not the only way to score points!

  • Comment number 86.

    Good stuff, respect to the French. They night not have had the best tournament with their 2 losses and scraping through against Wales but in previous tournaments, fighting for everything and scrapping through has generally been lauded. It's not how you win remember.... ! If they were to lift the cup on Sunday then no one can begrudge them and their coach a well earned and well-timed run for victory.

    "You can only read the tournament as you see it"

    Fair comment LastKing, but where have you been watching from?

    Churguys, I think Wales and NZ have both grown up somewhat off the paddock, which contributes to results on the paddock. It surprises me Johnno didn't realise that the two normally correlate.

  • Comment number 87.

    84: I agree Noah, so it will prob come down to Joubert playing out Paddy O'Brien's IRB fairytale and penalising whatever ISN'T black ;) I'm watching you Joubert...

    I think the real advantage for the ABs is going to be the gainline. The NZ backs are much stronger than the french, and even if they don't get through easily like in the pool game, they will be going forward nonetheless and Weepu and Cruden will be getting good ball.

    The French have to try and starve the ABs of possession, lots of picks and gos and not kicking it unless it's into space or out of play. La chandelle won't work the way Dagg et al have been under the high ball. Unless the heavens have opened. France have top goal kickers and NZ don't, which is an advantage.

    But having said all that, i want to see france really have to attack. NZ go in at halftime 10 or 12 points up thinking it's in the bag and the french are broken. But wait... what's this? Surely it's not happening again... is it? :D

  • Comment number 88.

    The duel between the loose forward trios will be something else. Dusautoir is very cool and probably more streetwise than Pocock. Helps too, having a strong pack. He and McCaw are very similar as leaders and both have very strong memories of '07. Harinorduquy is a rock. Read and Kaino will have their work cut out.

  • Comment number 89.

    Yeah I'm with you on that one allseeing. Go forward ball on the gainline will be key. Mealamu and Franks hit huge yardage last Sunday. Cant see it happening this weekend. Doing the little things right too - accurate offloading in the mauls, hitting at the right angles, fast cleanout ruck ball. All the basics.

  • Comment number 90.

    The difference between Gatland, Henry and Johnson is that the former are both experienced manager/coaches. Johnson was picked with any coaching or team management background and failed.
    Not that i want to dwell on England, but I think that England should hang on to Johnson as manager... get new coaches and pick the best players on form and merit.
    The manner in which they tactically dismantled Australia last week was very impressive.

  • Comment number 91.

    Yeah Mccaw off his feet with his hands everywhere, 6 players offside every time Yashvili takes the ball, the ref refusing to countenance NZ not winning the game, all the basics ;)

  • Comment number 92.

    Of explains why we lead the world...(NOT) :-)

  • Comment number 93.

    @90 porridge_times:

    "The difference between Gatland, Henry and Johnson is that the former are both experienced manager/coaches. Johnson was picked with any coaching or team management background and failed."

    I am not saying that Johnson is perfect (far from it) I am first to say the coaching set up needs to change. But how did Woodward get on in his first World Cup in charge? Had he failed? Should we have got rid of him?

  • Comment number 94.

    That's quite an envy based comment there.

  • Comment number 95.

    Daverchallen... you obviously did not read my whole post, I suggest you go back and read the last paragraph;-)

  • Comment number 96.

    Meant second from last paragraph.

  • Comment number 97.

    porridge you are still saying he failed.....did people say Woodward failed? (I actually dont know) But I guess he did fail as we are out.
    I did read your whole post, I was more asking the question to those who are saying he MUST go rather than at you as you clearly sate he should stay).
    I am unsure if he should go or not. I just dont see the WC as dire as some people make out for England.

  • Comment number 98.

    94 lol darn right, you got some team :)

    L' have been interviewing a few of the AB players light-heartedly, just about general stuff like music, interests etc. It's fascinating. Gotta say i never realised what a top bloke Mccaw is, no ego or anything despite being a legend of the game. Hats off to him!

  • Comment number 99.

    @98 Nice to know superstars can still keep their feet on the ground! Probably nice to be interviewed about normal stuff rather than probing question predicting results etc....

  • Comment number 100.

    One area NZ will have an advantage is mobility right across the park. Means we can use aggressive defence out wide to attack the breakdowns then switch the point of attack depending on options available.


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