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Lievremont Begins War Of Words
Posted Feb 23, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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There are many great rivalries when it comes to English sport: Australia in the cricket, Germany in the football, Wales in the rugby, Australia in the rugby, France in the rugby…
Well OK, England aren’t great at making friends in our great sport, having generated a begrudging rivalry with more or less everyone. Having defeated Wales in Cardiff two weeks ago, it should come as no surprise to hear that the upcoming fixture against the French – a fixture that the majority of fans are considering a decider in the six nations – has already been blessed with some fighting talk.
France coach Marc Lievremont is not someone renowned for his mouth – unlike Wales head honcho Warren Gatland who unleashed his own pre-match banter before Wales’s game against the old enemy – but he has been quick to start the war of words in the lead-up to the match, declaring the English ‘unliked’ by the his team, his friends and finally himself.
‘We don’t like them [the English] and it’s better to say that than be hypocritical’ the Frenchmen began, when quizzed about his Saturday opponents. ‘We respect them – well in my case at least I do. But you can’t say we have the slightest thing in common.’
Whether the comments are legitimate feelings or just the result of simple pre-match hyperbole will be debated, no doubt, but Lievremont didn’t hesitate to share the apparently similar views of other nations in the tournament, stating that ‘we beat Ireland yet left Dublin with the encouragement of all the Irish who said ‘for pity’s sake, beat the English’ and claimed that the Scots thought ‘the same thing’.
The head honcho is likely hoping that this pre-match banter will go some way to fuelling the French fire, adding that this apparent dislike for Martin Johnson’s squad is ‘what gives you strength against the English, more than just because of rugby.’
However, this doesn’t mean that Lievremont is under-estimating the challenge of Saturday’s game, noting that he regards the English as ‘very proud people’ and that he was well aware that England were ‘already in 2011 World Cup mode’ with physicality ‘on a different level.’
Whether or not the English boss Martin Johnson will respond is unknown, but the big talk has already gone some way to building up the match that is likely to decide the six nations tournament.