Players lacked guts, moans Lievremont

FRANCE coach Marc Lievremont said he was at a “dead end” following Saturday’s shock defeat by Italy in the Six Nations.

Lievremont said he would struggle to put together a squad for this year’s World Cup based on the performance, before making six changes to his squad for the next match against Wales, with forward Sebastien Chabal the biggest casualty. “I had promised a few players they would play the World Cup, but it was one defeat too many, we’re back to square one,” he said. “We’ll have to send 30 guys (to the World Cup) and when I see the performances of France A in June, the performances of some players in the Top 14, I’m at a bit of a dead end.

“I feel like I’m responsible for this, but the players lack courage. There is a certain cowardice. When I talk to them, nothing happens. Some of the players maybe wore the France jersey for the last time. They betrayed us, they have betrayed me and they have betrayed the French shirt.

“In terms of the tactics deployed, it defied belief. I did not recognise anything in their performance that we had worked on. Do you think that I told them to play as they did against Italy? I was ashamed. I do not have the impression we asked them to walk on the moon. I do not ask for complicated things. This match was an hallucination. I do not want to absolve myself of blame but they invented things on the pitch.”

Full-back Maxime Medard said the players were ashamed by the 22-21 defeat at the Stadio Flaminio, their first loss to Italy in 12 Six Nations games. “If I had a rope, I’d hang myself,” he said. “Well, I’m kidding, but I’d like to go and hide somewhere.”

“We do not have a team capable of winning the World Cup,” added fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc. “We don’t seem capable of playing together. Some players look like they are lost on the pitch.”

Chabal is dropped for the Welsh game along with centres Aurelien Rougerie — axed because he is due to appear before the French League’s disciplinary committee during the week — and Yannick Jauzion, prop Sylvain Marconnet, full-back Clement Poitrenaud and lock Jerome Thion. Rougerie Lievremont brought in flanker Alexandre Lapandry, prop Jerome Schuster, outside backs Alexis Palisson, Fabrice Estebanez and David Marty and lock Pascal Pape for Saturday’s clash at Stade de France.

Meanwhile, Wales prop Craig Mitchell is set to miss the rest of this season after dislocating his shoulder during the victory over Ireland on Saturday. Mitchell has undergone surgery and is expected to be sidelined for 12 to 16 weeks. Adam Jones, who has played just 20 minutes of rugby since suffering an elbow injury in January, will replace him in the Wales squad.

FRANCE (squad v Wales) Forwards: T Domingo, J Schuster, G Guirado, L Ducalcon, W Servat, N Mas, L Nallet, J Pierre, P Pape, T Dusautoir, I Harinordoquy, J Bonnaire, A Lapandry. Backs: M Parra, F Trinh-Duc, J Tomas, F Estebanez, D Marty, A Palisson, D Traille, V Clerc, M Medard.

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