Marc Lievremont named France Rugby coach

25th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2007, TARBES (AFP) - Former France international Marc Lievremont was named coach of the French rugby union side here on Wednesday.

25 October 2007

TARBES (AFP) - Former France international Marc Lievremont was named coach of the French rugby union side here on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old - who had been in charge of Dax guiding them to promotion to the Top 14 last term - will be assisted by another former France international Emile Ntamack, who will take charge of the backs, while Didier Retiere will look after the forwards.

Lievremont replaces Bernard Laporte, whose eight year tenure came to an end when France lost the World Cup third place play-off with Argentina last Friday - he has now taken up his duties as junior Sports Minister.

"I realise that I am at the centre of a lot of attention and of hopes for the future," said Lievremont, whose last match for the French was in the 1999 World Cup final where they lost to Australia.

"I also understand that some people are disappointed, legitimately or not, but I consider myself to be a man with convictions surrounding both the sport and on the human front.

"I have not asked for anything from anyone.

"I respect all the coaches who were viable candidates for the post, but it is not for me to justify what has happened."

Lievremont - capped 25 times between 1995 and 1999 - had been heavily supported by Bernard Lapasset, the outgoing President of the French Rugby Federation and new President of the International Rugby Board, but not by Serge Blanco.

Blanco, the former French fullback and now president of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), said it was far too quick to appoint someone after the World Cup when there had to be a review of the tournament and the past eight years so they could then look at what needed putting right and who was best suited to the job.

"I don't know why the LNR was not consulted about this," said Blanco, who is favourite to replace Lapasset.

However, Lapasset rejected Blanco's criticism.

"These nominations are part of a four year plan," said Lapasset.

"This is not an individual choice but a long term project and was discussed with the other coaches of professional rugby teams.

"This is not a dictator's decree, taken exclusively by me."

Lapasset said that while both Lievremont and Ntamack lacked experience they had the vital quality that they knew the young generation of French players well.

"It is important that the French squad integrates the young players coming through," said Lapasset.

"And it is them (Lievremont and Ntamack) who know them best and who guided them to the Under-21 world title (in June 2006).

"Marc Lievremont is very modest and has a very endearing personality."

Lievremont was also highly praised by France's national technical director Jean-Claude Skrela, who coached France to the 1999 World Cup final.

"He is a winner and a leader with enormous character. He doesn't lack in anything," said Skrela.

Blanco, however, did not as expected share Lapasset's or Skrela's enthusiastic endorsements.

"I do not endorse this decision," said the former dashing French back.

"Today (Wednesday), I have the feeling that the technical director has emerged from this stronger when there was no need for the decision to be taken so hastily.

"We have chosen the men, we are going to put the plan into place afterwards."

Blanco admitted, however, that he would not contest the choice.

Gilbert Ponteins, president of Dax, was understandably upset in losing his coach just two days away from their opening match of the season against Toulouse, though, Lievremont, whose two brothers are also at the club, will be on the bench for that one.

"I am just about coping with the stress and the impact of the decision taken by the Federation to take our coach," said Ponteins.

"On the eve of the season and first match, it is a difficult thing to live with.

"I do not know if it could have happened any other way but it has certainly fallen badly for us, especially after doing something pretty special last season."

Other candidates had been seen as more realistic ones to try and secure France's first World Cup title at the next edition in New Zealand in 2011.

Guy Noves, the fiery but highly successful coach of Toulouse, had been touted and would have been supported by Blanco while Philippe Saint Andre, the former France winger and well regarded coach of English Premiership side Sale, was also at one point favoured by Lapasset.

Ntamack, who was capped 46 times between 1994 and 2000, has not coached a senior side but has been in charge of the Toulouse Under-21 side and guided the France Under-21 team to the world title in June 2006 - just as World Cup winning South Africa coach Jake White did when he was in charge of the South Africa Under-21 team.

Ntamack said that his appointment was a vote of confidence in his potential.

"It is a huge honour and a great joy for me," said Ntamack.

"It is a vote of confidence, well that is certainly how I take it."

Ntamack said there would be no problem having three coaches.

"We are all willing to work as a trio without leaving one of them out of the process because I believe with our disparate talents we can all contribute something."


Subject: French news

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