French boss Lievremont vows to fight on after Aussie hammering
France coach Marc Lievremont was still in a state of shock yesterday but vowed to "continue to fight" after a record hammering by Australia wrecked his World Cup plans.
"As you can imagine, we had a short night and we still can't explain how we collapsed mentally and physically, individually and collectively in the last 30 minutes of the game," Lievremont said.
"I think it's just impossible to explain the inexplicable. Of course, the Wallabies play fabulous rugby and when you think their average age is 23 or 24 -- but still it doesn't explain how we collapsed in all sectors of the game and how they punished us beyond what's imaginable.
"I'm not a man to quit. I'll continue to fight. The only thing that could push me to go would be the feeling that the players are letting me down and not adhering to our plans. That's not the case."
After victories over Fiji and Argentina, France were hoping to come out of their November Tests with a morale-boosting clean sheet for the first time since 2005, the year of their last win over Australia.
Morgan Parra put France ahead for the first time, 13-10, just after the break but then disaster struck.
In 30 minutes of flamboyant rugby, the Wallabies piled up 49 points, adding six tries to a first scored after only four minutes.
It was the third-heaviest defeat in France's history, after their 61-10 and 47-3 thrashings by New Zealand in 2007 and 2006.
The French's only weapon was their powerful scrum that won them a penalty try but ultimately proved useless when the Aussies opened the gates of their flowing rugby. Sebastien Chabal's move from lock to No 8 to add even more power to the pack made no impression on the game either.
Power was also the reason France selected a massive midfield with Damien Traille, Yannick Jauzion and Aurelien Rougerie at 10, 12 and 13 but the Australian backline made them pay the price for fielding a centre at out-half and a winger as outside centre.
Lievremont continued to test new players like full-back Jerome Porical and wing Yoann Huget.
"The choice of players is not the problem," he said. "If I had selected Imanol Harinordoquy instead of Chabal, Clement Poitrenaud instead of Porical, Vincent Clerc instead of Huget, I don't think it would have made any difference."
France -- T Domingo; W Servat (G Guirado 35), N Mas, J Pierre, L Nallet, T Dusautoir, F Ouedraogo, S Chabal, M Parra, D Traille, A Palisson, Y Jauzion, A Rougerie, Y Huget, J Porical.
Australia -- J Slipper; S Moore, B Alexander (B Robinson 41) D Simmons, N Sharpe, R Elsom, D Pocock, B McCalman, W Genia, L Cooper, D Mitchell, B Barnes, A Ashley-Cooper, J O'Connor, K Beale.
REF -- B Lawrence (New Zealand).