FORMER FRANCE coach Marc Lièvremont has criticised the All Blacks for their attitude towards his players following the Rugby World Cup final and questioned some of the decisions made in that game by referee Craig Joubert.
In an interview with Le Monde, Lièvremont praised his team and New Zealand rugby fans during France's unlikely run to the final.
However, he was less kind about the All Blacks’ attitude.
“They didn't have a word to say about the France team, and at the gala night at the end of the tournament, it was all about the All Blacks,” he says.
There were plenty of incidents during the Eden Park match, which was won 8-7 by the All Blacks.
France centre Aurelien Rougerie escaped being cited for an alleged eye-gouge on Richie McCaw and France lost first five Morgan Parra to an early injury when McCaw’s knee caught the side of his head when he was trapped underneath the ruck.
“We didn't appreciate the behaviour of their coach Graham Henry, or the captain Richie McCaw. They're still talking about Aurelien Rougerie's eye gouging on the basis of rather tendentious editing,” says Lièvremont.
“But when you see how McCaw behaved, notably with Morgan Parra ... I think they could have shown a bit more humility.”
Lièvremont also took a couple of shots at Joubert.
He felt his team should have beaten a shaky All Blacks side in the tournament decider.
However, he reckons the pressure during the match got to Joubert and caused him to make a number of questionable decisions that ultimately resulted in Les Bleus finishing second best.
“We had some clues, we showed that by keeping the ball, by moving New Zealand about, they had problems getting back into position.
“If the referee had been consistent we could have drawn them into fouls, too.
“We knew there would be a lot of pressure on his shoulders. I think he's an honest man who was influenced.
“My regret is that, despite this refereeing which was, let's say, 'permissive,' we could have won. We created chances to score a try he couldn't have refused.”
Lièvremont did, however, have kind things to say about the New Zealand fans.
"I think there's a big difference between the behaviour of [New Zealand's] leaders and New Zealand's media, who put an enormous amount of pressure on the All Blacks' rivals, and the attitude of people in the street.
“In the hearts of New Zealanders, France was already a special opponent and I think we won their respect. They never stopped encouraging us.”
Lièvremont, who has been replaced by Philippe Saint-Andre, still can't bear to watch the final.
"It's maybe the only match in four years I haven't watched again,” he says.
"It could open up wounds. There's a feeling of bitterness. We were so close to something huge, one of the biggest exploits in French sporting history."« Back to Articles
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.