Lièvremont recalls 2011 Rugby World Cup final

GettyImages 130387815

Beleaguered France coach Marc Lièvremont, who had reportedly lost his dressing room as France suffered losses to the All Blacks and Tonga in pool play, said New Zealand turned on the French. Lièvremont said Aurélien Rougerie, Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili took over the coaching of the side


"After the semifinal against the Welsh, our efficiency and pragmatism became a source of ridicule. I used it as a lever. I even asked my staff to display sneering articles on the walls of our team room," he told Midi Olympique.


The French were under fire from all angles.


The New Zealand Herald's front-page headline of '80 minutes and we're laughing' was one example he cited. A former Springbok was on the air claiming it was shameful France had reached the final.


But Lièvremont was also under assault from French fans.


"Serge Blanco compared me to a sad clown. Obviously, the context tightened the squad around their captain which fed the conspiracy theories about the team," he said.



Loose forward Imanol Harinodoquy said New Zealanders were unbearable in the final week accusing France of being violent and offending in rucks and mauls. He said it didn't help when the All Blacks won the draw relating to the colour of the jersey they would wear in the final.


France lost and had to wear white jerseys instead of their usual blue.


"I have always preferred to die wearing the colours of the French team and the French jersey, it is blue. That's one more thing we used as motivation," he said.


Lièvremont also said fellow Frenchman and World Rugby's referees' boss Joël Jutge arranged a meeting with the referee for the final Craig Joubert from South Africa.


"The three of us met at his hotel bar. I have often said Joubert was the best referee in the world, and I stand by that. He is an intelligent man, open to discussion, physically sharp.


"That morning, the conversation related to two concerns: prop Tony Woodcock's scrum positioning, and the difference in treatment for captain Richie McCaw and hooker Keven Mealamu, and others like Australian flanker David Pocock."


Lièvremont had produced a clip highlighting the point he was trying to make, but Joubert refused to watch it to the end. Joubert said he was aware of the stakes and said: "For me, it will be just fifteen blacks against fifteen whites."


After the 7-8 loss, Lièvremont didn't criticise Joubert publicly, but he did say later that Jutge had been right when he said after the final that 'Joubert had refereed the Blues and managed the Blacks'.

The newspaper said the idea to form a V when the All Blacks did their pre-game haka had come from their New Zealand security guard during the World Cup, a former policeman Andy Roberts.


He told captain and flanker Thierry Dusautoir that British armies had formed a V in front of enemy lines, and after thinking about it, the French practised the move.


Lock Pascal Papé said: "We worked on the thing but on the day of the game, everything was done in a very natural way. Titi [Dusautoir] got in front, the experienced players followed him and the others too. When we finally deployed on the halfway line, it was clear that the All Blacks were totally disconcerted."


Dusautoir said: "At the start, I went forward alone but then I felt the support of all my teammates. I even had to stop them. Some wanted to cross and kiss the New Zealanders. We had to calm them down."


Lièvremont said the final was the epilogue of an epic, if sometimes chaotic, adventure. His words to the team at their jersey presentation were, 'This game belongs to you guys. Be strong.'


"Like it or not, never before has a French team come so close to being crowned world champion," he said.


The All Blacks take on France for the Dave Gallaher Trophy at 9am on Sunday 21 November NZT.


View all