France coach Marc Lievremont has conceded after the “shame” of yesterday’s shock defeat to Tonga that his squad are not united in pursuit of a first Rugby World Cup title.
Lievremont compared his squad to the French football team, who refused to train at the 2010 World Cup following a row between then-coach Raymond Domenech and striker Nicolas Anelka.
“I thought I had experienced everything in terms of shame,” said Lievremont, as he reflected on the Tonga game.
“But this time round, it’s been an extremely violent feeling again. Each missed pass, each missed tackle, I took them as a deep personal failure.
“(Afterwards) I would have liked for us to gather around a few drinks to talk, to share thoughts, to release the pressure – and I was disappointed. We all split in different directions.
“We live in a society where image matters. I saw players with their agent on the eve and after the game instead of regrouping as a team.
“They have their career to manage, and perhaps the media to please.
“French rugby and players laughed at the French football players last year. But in some respect, we didn’t get off the bus either.”
Lievremont’s position was arguably undermined by the French Federation (FFR) announcing before the World Cup that he would be replaced by Philippe Saint-Andre.
France crept into the quarter-finals despite defeats to New Zealand and Tonga and will meet England in Auckland next Saturday.
“Naturally, I am a fighter, I believe in the men, in a group who hopefully know how to pick themselves up,” said Lievremont. “I have got experienced and talented players. But maybe not as talented as I thought.
“Some compare me with Raymond Domenech. You must know that I have got an immense respect for him.
“He did fight. I know what that means and, I repeat, I have absolutely no intention to give up.
“I’ve got my share of responsibilities, but do you sincerely think that it is because of my management that we failed to be committed in the game? There is a lack of collective dynamism.”
France centre Fabrice Estebanez has been cited for a dangerous tip tackle against Tonga. His hearing will be in the early hours of Monday morning.