Monday, February 21, 2011

Lievremont admits to “dislike” for England

France head coach Marc Lievremont kicked off the war of words ahead of their crucial 6 Nations clash against England on Saturday, claiming he “does not like” England.

The weekend fixture is being billed as the deciding match in this year’s tournament, with both the only remaining teams unbeaten after two games.

England faced a similar verbal attack from Wales head coach Warren Gatland before their game in the opening round of the tournament. Gatland focused his attention on England hooker Dylan Hartley, accusing him of “talking too much” while questioning his ability to compete at the highest level.

England went on to win 19-26, and the former Wasps coach admitted he had made a mistake in talking to the media before the game.

Lievremont admitted he had a dislike of the English, and believes he will have the backing of the other teams in the tournament for the game at Twickenham. He said: “We don't like them (the English) and it's better to say that than be hypocritical.”

“We appreciate our Italian cousins with whom we share the same quality of life,"

"We appreciate the Celts and their conviviality and then among all these nations we have one huge thing in common. We all don't like the English.”

"We beat Ireland yet left Dublin with the encouragement of all the Irish who said 'for pity's sake, beat the English'.” he added.

The former French U-21 coach said he had respect for England and the way in which they have approached the tournament, and described Martin Johnson’s men as “on a different level” compared to when the two teams last met.

“This insular country, who always drape themselves in the national flag, their hymns, their chants, their traditions. They are people who one regards as a very proud people," he said.

"But we are also very aware, in terms of planning and preparation, that the English are already in 2011 World Cup mode.”

Earlier in the week Lievremont admitted to the weekend game being a “headache” for him, because of the style of play England have shown so far against Wales and Italy.

England captain Lewis Moody looks to winning his race to be fit in time for the game after playing for 23 minutes in Bath’s 38-8 win over Northampton on Saturday. Adidas flanker wearer Tom Croft also stepped up his return from injury, featuring in Leicester’s 21-12 win over Wasps.

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