France rugby coach Marc Lievremont slammed a section of his World Cup team as “spoiled brats” after they defied his orders by going out to celebrate Saturday night’s 9-8 semifinal win over Wales.
With an enigmatic smile on his face throughout, Lievremont elaborated on an earlier comment he had made about going to bed in a bad mood, by delivering the withering verdict on some of his squad.
“[Today I am] feeling good,” he said. “I went to bed in a bad mood, because I’d asked the players not to go out.
“And I found out that a few of them had gone out. So we spoke about it this morning and I told them what I thought of them.
“I told them they are a bunch of spoiled brats. Undisciplined, disobedient, sometimes selfish. Always complaining, always whingeing,” he added, not holding back.
“And it’s been like this for four years. It seems to be our way of functioning. I also told them I have a lot of affection for them, but it is a shame they don’t look after themselves.
“But at the same time we’re in the final. And as I said yesterday we have to believe in this destiny.”
Lievremont did not name the culprits but said that he had spoken to them. When asked how the players had responded to his harsh words, he smiled again.
“Oh, they appreciated them,” he said.
As the questions continued, Lievremont attempted to diffuse the controversy.
“The night out was incidental. It’s really not very important,” he said.
“It is not a few cigarettes, the two or three beers … or the extra dessert they eat that will affect their preparation for the final.”
France will face either Australia or New Zealand — who play later on Sunday — in next Sunday’s final.
“We’re in the final,” Lievremont said. “We have to believe in this destiny.
“The problem is, we are not world champions yet, we’re only in the final. Does it really surprise you, my attitude?
“This reminds me of 1999,” he added.
Twelve years ago Lievremont was a player in the last French squad to reach a World Cup final.
“In ’99 we spent four days celebrating our semifinal win. We didn’t prepare properly and I don’t want us to relive this same thing.”
Having beaten New Zealand in the semifinals, France lost to Australia on that occasion.
Lievremont also came under fire for a perceived slight by the French team who failed to meet and mix with French fans when they returned to their city centre hotel.
“It is not up to me,” Lievremont said. “It was a security thing. I felt bad about it, I understand … I don’t know why it happened which is why I came down to greet some of the fans.”
Lievremont also railed against media reports which, he said, failed to give his team due credit after they narrowly beat a Welsh team reduced to 14 men for most of the match.
“I read in the Kiwi press today about the insulting qualification. That’s fine if that’s the case … for France, I’ll take it,” he said.
“The players have been laughing a lot at the press headlines for a while now — it has helped them pull together.
“But I think it is insulting to say these things with regards to the French team.” – Reuters
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