France 20-13 South Africa, Toulouse, November 13
Lievremont hails tactical triumph
November 13, 2009
France captain Thierry Dusautoir takes the attack to South Africa in Toulouse © Getty Images
Peter De Villiers Schalk Burger Vincent Clerc Thierry Dusautoir Cedric Heymans Marc Lievremont Morne Steyn
France coach Marc Lievremont heaped praise on his side following their hard-fought 20-13 victory over South Africa in Toulouse.
The hosts out-muscled their opponents to record their third consecutive victory over the reigning Tri-Nations champions and Rugby World Cup holders and claim another notable scalp having beaten the All Blacks in the summer.
"Everyone said you can't play the Boks at their own game, in the same physical way,'' said Lievremont. "But we did. We won the contest and had the extra physical edge to win the game. The most satisfying thing was our control of the game, physically and tactically."
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers accepted the Springboks were beaten by the better side. "The French were really on top of the game. They're the guys who deserved to win. You can't play the game without the ball. They won the contest on the floor and we lost too much ball in contact. They were the strongest side.''
But De Villiers found fault with English referee Wayne Barnes who repeatedly penalised his ill-disciplined side at the scrum. "It's always the same problems, and it's with the same ref," De Villiers added. "I don't understand where we are going wrong, and I don't think the explanations are good enough. How can we improve if we don't know what to work on?"
Springboks vice-captain Victor Matfield admitted the hosts were more than a match for his side up front. "Physicality is part of the game and most of the time the guys who win the physical battle win the game," he said. "They had more intensity than us. They were just quicker by one second in everything. We always knew it was going to be tough coming to France where we haven't won for 12, 13 years. We knew they were very passionate at home. They came out firing."
France captain Thierry Dusautoir revealed matching the Springboks' physicality was always part of the game plan. "They're very physical, but so are we," he told Keo.co.za. "We knew we had to have an answer to Matfield and Botha. We knew that if we managed to keep them quiet, we'd win the battle. We did well to keep those individuals quiet, which helped when it came to keeping the collective quiet.'
The Springboks were also angered by what they saw as a disrespectful rendition of the South African national anthem after the singer appeared to forget some of the lyrics - that features five of the country's 11 languages.
"We were annoyed by the fact the French did not respect our anthem. They did not really get somebody who knows it," said an angry De Villiers.
"It was a joke out there and the guys couldn't even sing (along) and even the crowd was starting to laugh," added Matfield.