Marc Lievremont's outburst at some of his players for their performance against Japan in their Rugby World Cup opener has unearthed fault lines that threateen to derail France's campaign.
Lievremont has Les Bleus red-faced
Auckland // Marc Lievremont's outburst at some of his players for the way they performed in the win over Japan has unearthed fault lines that threaten to undermine France's Rugby World Cup campaign.
Despite a 47-21 score line, Lievremont, the outspoken France coach, 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 news conference to lay into those he said had let him down, notably Imanol Harinordoquy, the back-row forward 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.
Subsequently, Lievremont spoke to the 31 year old, 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 the half-back pairing of Dimitri Yachvili and Francois Trinh-Duc, saying they had been lacklustre at the heart of an overall poor team performance.
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 learnt before leaving France that he would lose his job after the World Cup.
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 has rarely singled out individual players for criticism, and it remains to be seen how that will go down.