Coach Lievremont lashes out at lacklustre French
Coach Marc Lievremont's outburst at some of his players for the way they performed in the win over Japan has unearthed fault lines in his squad that threaten to undermine France's World Cup campaign.
Despite a 47-21 scoreline, the outspoken Lievremont was dismayed at the way Les Bleus allowed the Asian champions back into the match to the extent that they were just four points adrift well into the second half.
And he used his post-match press conference to lay into those who he felt had let him down, notably star back rower Imanol Harinordoquy, a player with whom he enjoys close ties.
"The way he played displeased me," Lievremont said. "At times he was very lackadaisical. Taking into account his experience and the role he plays in the team, it was annoying."
Lievremont's comments followed those of Harinordoquy several days beforehand when he expressed his doubts over the coach's tactics of ensuring that all 30 of his players see action.
Subsquently, Lievremont spoke to the 31-year-old player, who has been capped 71 times for his country, and was told that he had not meant to be seen to be criticising his coach.
But it was not just Harinordoquy who came in for a tongue-lashing.
Lievremont also took aim at his half-back pairing of Dimitri Yachvili and Francois Trinh-Duc saying they had been lacklustre at the heart of an overall poor team performance.
"I was frustrated with the way our play was polluted with approximations, technical errors, indiscipline," he said.
"A dozen penalties against us and so many mistakes made on moves that were relatively easy.
"We studied this Japanese team and we saw that they had weaknesses especially in the static phases of their defence.
"At times we managed to knock them off balance, but we were so wasteful in our finishing and we lacked organisation."
The French squad arrived in New Zealand following home-and-away wins over Ireland in build-up games, but with some doubts over their ability to go deep into the tournament following a poor Six Nations tournament.
On top of that, Lievremont learned before leaving France that he would lose his job after the World Cup, four years after he was a surprise choice to take over from Bernard Laporte.
Not known for pulling his punches, Lievremont has panned his team's performances before, notably after the 10-34 loss to England in the 2009 Six Nations, or more recently in the shock 21-22 loss to Italy in Rome in March.
But he rarely singles out individual players for criticism and it remains to be seen how that will go down.
Next up for the French is what should be a relatively straight-forward clash against Canada in Napier on Sunday with Lievremont looking for more consistency from his men ahead of the showdown with the All Blacks at Eden Park on September 24.
"I thought we had the chance to really get going in the tournament by playing against teams that we should beat comfortably and thus build up our confidence and consistency, but for the moment that has not been the case," he warned.