Lievremont, though, admits England’s unpopularity invokes a siege mentality which makes them difficult to beat.
“Of course the rivalry still exists between us, but when it comes to the English I think it exists with all the nations in the world – if I’m to believe all the messages of support from the New Zealanders, the Argentinians and the Australians that we come across in the street,” Lievremont said.
“They are united against them (England), but that’s also what makes them strong, this ability to surpass themselves, to unite together against the rest of the world.”
France are seeking to avoid World Cup elimination this morning (8.30am Irish time) at the hands of England for the third successive tournament, having lost to their perennial rivals at the semi-final stage in 2003 and 2007.
But Lievremont takes confidence from the RBS 6 Nations-winning campaign 18 months ago, when Les Bleus came from behind to win 12-10 in Paris.
He added: “The French have never really done that well against England in matches where there’s a lot at stake, even though our squad managed to do it to win the Grand Slam in 2010, when we were trailing against England and found the resources to come back.”
Following a fraught tournament thus far, France captain Thierry Dusautoir has urged his side to deliver, saying: “The important thing is our actions, not our words.”
Les Bleus’ camp has been an unhappy one, but Dusautoir hopes the promises made in a clear-the-air drinking session following last week’s 19-14 loss to Tonga will ring true against their familiar foes at Eden Park.
Dusautoir said: “The essential thing is what we will do now, not what has been said. I want to see a team that fights.”
Historically France have proved capable of radically improved performances within the space of a week. Dusautoir added: “We failed against Tonga, it was a very sad moment. I was very sad to see the French team in this state.
“That match is behind us now and we have to look forward to this challenge. All our eyes are fixed on this objective.
“We need to find the right blend and to be as determined as possible.”
* ALREADY in hot water for likening the International Rugby Board’s treatment of tier-two nations such as his own Samoa to that of victims of slavery, the Holocaust and apartheid, and calling Welsh referee Nigel Owens a “racist”, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapulo has jumped in with both feet again on the social media website Twitter.
Already banned for failing to attend a disciplinary hearing into his previous tweets, Sapulo has now criticised the lack of a memorial for Samoa when they played on the anniversary of a destructive tsunami which claimed 143 lives, while the IRB granted a minute’s silence for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks before the USA-Ireland match. “Minute of silence for USA for 9/11, nothing for Samoa for tsunami. Both games played anniversary days. Our dead not good enough,” Sapulo tweeted.
An IRB spokesman responded by insisting the tsunami was acknowledged: “As agreed with the Samoa Rugby Union, the date was respectfully commemorated with a public address immediately prior to kick-off and also the wearing of black armbands to remember those who tragically lost their lives.”