Regan happy to rile French
February 24, 2008
Mark Regan is still struggling to wipe the smile off his face after being labelled a clown by France coach Marc Lievremont.
And the fiery England hooker made no apologies for "getting under the skin" of a French side who could not handle Regan's Bristolian banter at its best.
Lievremont certainly lost the plot, claiming: ''I thought the behaviour of the English hooker was completely unacceptable at times.
''It wasn't in the spirit of the game. He was a bit of a clown, really.
''Every time there was a lineout he was provocative, but this didn't detract from England and the fact they deserved their victory.''
By the time Regan made his exit after 50 minutes, England were firmly on their way to a first Six Nations victory in Paris since 2000.
Eight years earlier, England's chief wind-up merchant Brian Moore got in French faces to such an extent that Les Bleus imploded.
Front-row forwards Gregoire Lascube and Vincent Moscato were both sent off by Irish referee Stephen Hilditch as England cruised to a 31-13 victory.
While no-one received their marching orders 16 years later, England's biggest Paris win since that 1992 romp had some of its foundation in France lacking composure when the heat came on.
Regan, 36, retorted to Lievremont's slur by claiming: ''The French have got their own opinion, haven't they?
''I am a bit disappointed he called me a clown, but when you come to France you have got to play on the edge and get under their skin somehow. If you don't, they will get under yours.
''They get irritated and it puts them off their game, doesn't it?
''I am selected to do a job, and that's to get under the skin of players.
''Brian Moore always did it, so I suppose I am following in his footsteps.''
Regan departed the arena to a chorus of boos and whistles, with France frustrated by what they saw as his delaying tactics before several of the game's 34 lineouts.
He added: ''I was disappointed to come off after 50 minutes, but I felt we had done the job by then.
''To be booed off, I take that as a massive compliment. The whole of France hated me.
''We had to front up, each and every one of us, and get in their faces.
''It came to about the 60th minute, and we had cracked them. France started making lots of changes, and the job was done from our point of view.
''I take it as a compliment their coach getting all upset.
''We were underdogs, and you saw a lot of fighting spirit from all the guys. To beat France in their own back yard is a really good effort.
''No-one gave us a hope in hell, and we played some good rugby. The championship would have been over for us had we lost, but we are still in there with a sniff.''
Regan predictably found allies in England boss Brian Ashton and captain Phil Vickery, who both praised his contribution to an outstanding red rose success.
Vickery described him as ''a proud man'', while Ashton added: ''Mark Regan is an outstanding hooker.
''He is a good scrapper in the nicest sense of the word, and a player the guys like playing with.
''We took him off because he had damaged his hand.''