Harinordoquy reveals French players ditched Lievremont for Cup endgame
Published 01/11/2011 | 05:00
French players took their rugby World Cup campaign into their own hands and largely overlooked "lost" coach Marc Lievremont to reach the final, according to star forward Imanol Harinordoquy.
France got off to a stuttering start in New Zealand, being thrashed by the All Blacks and losing to Tonga in the group phase before beating England and Wales and losing 8-7 to the host nation in the final.
"After the defeat against Tonga... I did not attach too much importance to what Marc said," No 8 Harinordoquy said yesterday.
"It was our adventure. It was meant to be the nice experience of 30 men. We had to free ourselves from his supervision."
Harinordoquy, who has won 77 caps since 2002, complained that coach Lievremont kept criticising his players in public.
"He cast the stone at us too often. When something goes wrong, we're all in the same boat. There are no good or bad guys," he said.
Lievremont slammed a section of the squad as 'spoiled brats' after they went out following their 9-8 victory over Wales in the semi-final, although he later claimed that he meant his remark to be affectionate.
"I felt he was lost," said Harinordoquy. "I will not miss him."
In 2007, the England players also rebelled to turn the situation around and reached the final after a lacklustre pool stage.
France came really close to beating the All Blacks but Harinordoquy reckoned South African Craig Joubert's refereeing played a major part in Les Bleus' final defeat.
"He was only looking at us," the Biarritz player said before also criticising New Zealand captain Richie McCaw. "He played the whole match in our camp. He did a lot of (bad) things and nobody told him anything.
"Three minutes from the end of the game, I saw him dive on the side of a ruck and he stayed there for ages."