Lievremont admits France playing catch-up
January 31, 2011
Marc Lievremont's side powered to a Six Nations Grand Slam last year © Getty Images
France coach Marc Lievremont has admitted that he faces a battle to re-build his side's reputation and morale during this year's Six Nations.
France powered to a Six Nations Grand Slam last year but heavy defeats on their summer tour at the hands of South Africa and Argentina and a humiliating loss to Australia in November brought Les Bleus crashing back down to earth.
Lievremont accepts his side are now playing catch-up to their rivals for not only northern hemisphere supremacy but also the World Cup that kicks off in September. "We have lost ground since the end of the Six Nations, that makes it eight months we have lost ground," Lievremont told AFP.
"With six months to go to the World Cup, I would have liked to already have the 30-man squad finalised, so I would be able to play all of them during the Six Nations because, I think, that would allow us to prepare in a more effective way for the World Cup. "However, that is not possible."
Reports of disquiet within the France squad have been played down but a recent refining of the coaching team will see the 42-year-old Lievremont take a more hands-on role in this year's Championship.
"With regards to strategy, we have worked on a play book with all that we have seen since we took over," said Lievremont, who side kick off their campaign against Scotland in paris on Saturday. "Whether that be the placings at the kick-off, the principles of counter-attacking, the restart of play...we will go through them little by little during the week. The players can also read and revise it when they go back to their rooms."
With the World Cup fast-approaching, Lievremont added that it was vital to re-build the side's confidence over the coming weeks. "The tour in June and then the huge defeat against Australia blew away a lot of the certainties on the level of our morale which had been borne out of the Six Nations," he said.
"We have to rediscover our team spirit. This was the case in the first two weeks of November even if the manner in which we played against Fiji [34-12] and Argentina [15-9] didn't suggest that. I felt last Friday that the players were blooming, and relaxed like they used to be. We are going to do our utmost so the guys get their confidence back."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Following the passing of Jack Kyle, Huw Richards pays tribute to arguably the finest player Ireland has produced
"When Mike Burton was sent off I thought the world had gone crazy - just Pommy bashing, hitting anyone." Behind the Rose heads back to 1975
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance