French coach Marc Lievremont was far from happy with his side after their 25-22 victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Sunday, giving them just four out of 10 for the performance.
The 42-year-old — who guided France to their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2004 last year — lambasted the team for creating their own problems and nearly letting the game slip away against an Ireland side that had come into the game on the back of a woeful 13-11 win over Italy last weekend.
Lievremont was especially annoyed at the manner in which France had started slowly and went behind to a try in the fifth minute — the hosts were to outscore the visitors by three tries to one.
“We almost fell into a trap, by digging ourselves into a hole and making life difficult for ourselves,” said the former backrow forward, who was part of the side that lost to Australia in the 1999 World Cup final.
“The trouble we got ourselves into could have been catastrophic, but we got ourselves back into it and I am happy to have got a win in Dublin against an Ireland side that had apparently no weapons or morale, though I doubted that was the case,” he said.
“While I have congratulated the players on the win, I would have to say that the overall performance rated only 4 out of 10,” Lievremont said.
Lievremont, who steadfastly refused to step down after the 59-16 mauling by Australia last November, but took on a more hands on role in all aspects, regretted the manner in which his side had not killed off Ireland.
“We should have put the match to bed earlier,” said Lievremont, who was a surprise choice in replacing Bernard Laporte after the 2007 World Cup.
“Conceding three tries is far too many. The side were too impatient, they lacked discipline, they were limited technically and wasted too many balls,” he said. “While the Irish put us under pressure for 80 minutes, if we had shown more patience we could have finished them off earlier.”
“I am sorry that we didn’t score more than one try, but I liked how the players held firm and both the lineouts and the footwork by the backs were good, but to have just a three point lead in the final minutes made it more stressful than it should have been,” Lievremont said, who nevertheless will keep the same squad for the match at Twickenham against England in two weeks.
France captain Thierry Dusautoir agreed with Lievremont about the general performance, but took succour from the spirit shown by the team, who managed finally to overhaul Ireland’s lead and then hold out in the dying minutes from a final surge.
“The start of the match was a bit of a shock to us and we didn’t know how to react,” said the 29-year-old Ivory Coast-born flanker. “We could have managed the response better, but the solidarity of the team was impressive in solving the problem.”
“The Irish too made a lot of errors and that allowed us to regroup and little by little get back into it,” Dusautoir said.
The Toulouse star, who at one point had to correct Lievremont when he confused Australia for Ireland when describing the first try, was slightly more charitable than the coach when it came to marking the display.
“Overall performance rates five out of 10, but with regard to the team spirit and given the difficult times we have had since the Australia match, then that would be for me 10 out of 10.”