Rugby World Cup 2011
Lievremont blasts All Blacks
November 20, 2011
Marc Lievremont remains bitter about France's World Cup defeat to New Zealand © Getty Images
Former France coach Marc Lievremont has criticised the attitude of the All Blacks towards his players since New Zealand's victory in the World Cup final.
The All Blacks were overwhelming favourites going into the final in Auckland but France put in a spirited display to almost shock the hosts. New Zealand eventually edged the tense match 8-7 and bad blood continued to flow after the contest, including accusations of eye-gouging against France centre Aurelien Rougerie and counter claims about Richie McCaw's role in an injury to Morgan Parra.
"They didn't have a word to say about the France team, and at the gala night at the end of the tournament, it was all about the All Blacks," Lievremont told Le Monde. "They were faced with a very trying context because they absolutely had to win. I always thought they were there for the taking. I was more afraid of South Africa.
"We didn't appreciate the behaviour of their coach Graham Henry, or the captain Richie McCaw. They're still talking about Aurelien Rougerie's eye gouging on the basis of rather tendentious editing," Lievremont said. "But when you see how McCaw behaved, notably with Morgan Parra ... I think they could have shown a bit more humility."
Lievremont, who left his role as France's head coach following a tumultuous tournament for the Frenchman, also criticised referee Craig Joubert for his performance in the final. "We had some clues, we showed that by keeping the ball, by moving New Zealand about, they had problems getting back into position," Lievremont said. "If the referee had been consistent we could have drawn them into fouls, too.
"We knew there would be a lot of pressure on his shoulders. I think he's an honest man who was influenced. My regret is that, despite this refereeing which was, let's say, 'permissive,' we could have won. We created chances to score a try he couldn't have refused."
However Lievremont did praise New Zealand's fans and a drew a distinction between them and the All Blacks and New Zealand media.
"I think there's a big difference between the behaviour of [New Zealand's] leaders and New Zealand's media, who put an enormous amount of pressure on the All Blacks' rivals, and the attitude of people in the street," Lievremont said. "In the hearts of New Zealanders, France was already a special opponent and I think we won their respect. They never stopped encouraging us."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.