Monday 19 February 2018

Lievremont blames 'cowardly' players

Italy 22
France 21

France coach Marc Lievremont said he was ashamed of his team after their shock defeat to Italy at Stadio Flaminio on Saturday and accused his players of "cowardice".

Nick Mallett's men came from 18-6 down to record their first ever Six Nations win over the French, leaving Lievremont furious and insisting that some of his players would never represent France again.

"There is a certain form of cowardice -- when I speak with them, nothing happens, as usual," said Lievremont.

"I feel like I'm responsible for this but the players are lacking courage. Some of the players maybe wore the France jersey for the last time."

Lievremont, who led France to the Grand Slam last year, has been under pressure since the 59-16 loss to Australia in November, and Saturday's result, following their defeat to England in Twickenham, has sparked outrage in the French rugby media.

"Total Failure," ran the headline in 'L'Equipe' with 'Journal du Dimanche' describing the result as "one defeat too many".

Lievremont has used 81 players since he took over from Bernard Laporte in 2007 and said he would struggle to put together a squad for the World Cup.

"I had promised a few players they would play in the World Cup but it was one defeat too many, we are back to square one. Do you really think that I told them to play as they did against Italy? I was ashamed."

Lievremont's despair was echoed by his players. "If I had a rope I'd hang myself, well, I'm kidding but I'd like to go and hide somewhere," said full-back Maxime Medard.

"We do not have a team capable of winning the World Cup," added out-half Francois Trinh-Duc.

Italy coach Mallett described the win as "huge achievement" and said it was one of his proudest moments in rugby. Italy head to Scotland next weekend confident of avoiding the wooden spoon.

ITALY -- A Masi; T Benvenuti, G Canale, G Garcia,M Bergamasco; L Orquera (K Burton 58), F Semenzato; A Lo Cicero (S Perugini 48), C Festuccia (L Ghiraldini 48), M Castrogiovanni; S Dellape, C A Del Fava; A Zanni, S Parisse (capt), R Barbieri (P Derbyshire 58).

FRANCE -- M Médard; Y Huget, A Rougerie, Y Jauzion (D Traille 71), V Clerc; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; S Marconnet, W Servat, N Mas (L Ducalcon 41); J Pierre, L Nallet (J Thion 57); T Dusautoir (capt), S Chabal (I Harinordoquy 57), J Bonnaire.

REF -- B Lawrence (New Zealand).

Irish Independent

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