Rugby Union: Third place not good enough for France, coach says

17th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

France's third-place finish in the Six Nations tournament, their worst performance since 2003, is unacceptable, coach Marc Lievremont said.

   CARDIFF, March 17, 2008 - France's third-place finish in the Six
Nations tournament, their worst performance since 2003, is unacceptable, coach Marc Lievremont said Sunday even though he was able to blood several new players along the way.
   French hopes of sneaking ahead of Wales for their third northern hemisphere
title in a row were demolished under the roof of the Millennium Dome in
Cardiff on Saturday as the home side cut loose late in the game to win 29-12,
taking the Grand Slam in the process.
   With England finishing in style at home to Ireland, France found themselves
relegated to third position and Lievremont facing some questions over his
selection policy.
   "It's too early yet to come to any firm conclusions, but it's true that a
third place finish out of six teams for a nation like France is a
disappointment," he said.
   "We had been hoping to do better. We did have the feeling that we were
competitive, but we cannot content ourselves with that.
   "It's up to us to come up with the correct strategic solutions, but that is
going to take time."
   A former international flanker, Lievremont was a suprise choice for the
France coaching job following Bernard Laporte's resignation at the end of the
World Cup which saw France lose to England in the semi-finals in Paris.
   Several top players like Fabien Pelous, Christophe Domenici and Raphael
Ibanez ended their international careers and Lievremont decided he would use
this year's Six Nations to take a look at what talent he had available to him.
   An impressive opening win away to Scotland was followed by a stuttering
performance at home to Ireland, a 24-13 loss to England in Paris and a
far-from-convincing victory over Italy.
   A victory in Wales would have cast the season in a better light, but it was
not to be, although Lievremont insists that there were several areas of
   "I was very pleased with the way that all our players fully invested
themselves in the project we set out with many young players being called up,"
he said.
   "We really had a great collective spirit in our squads and that meant a lot
to us. It's up to each individual now to ascertain what they need to do to
contribute to our efforts to match the best teams."
   Next up for France and Lievremont is a summer tour to Australia for which
he knows already that he will have to do without the services of four of his
top teams who will stay behind to compete in the semi-finals of the national
   "It's going to be a gruelling tour - a tour full of dangers for us," he
   "What worries me is how fresh and fit the players will be, especially those
who played in the World Cup and who will have been playing non-stop for almost 12 months.
   "To have to do without our top players due to club commitements is a second
worry. It's always tough to match up with southern hemisphere sides who are in
top nick coming off their super-14 tournament.
   "But we can use the occasion to take a further look at new talent and new
   On a personal level Lievremont said that he had taken huge pleasure from
being in charge and that he had established excellent relationships with both
coaching staff and players.


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