Mad Marc’s reign could yet finish on a surprising high

Over the last four years, when it’s come to controversial outbursts or selections from a country’s head coach, Peter de Villiers has comfortably sat on the throne as international Rugby’s jester. Classic quotes such as “If we are going on like this, why don’t we go to the nearest ballet shop, get some tutus and get a dancing shop going?” and “I’m a God-given talent. I am the best I can ever be. I know what I am and I don’t give a damn.” made him the humiliation of Bokke support and the amusing spectacle of the rest of the world. But lately, someone has been stealing his thunder…

Over the last two weeks, and especially since South Africa headed home two weeks ago, Marc Lièvremont has emerged out of de Villier’s shadow and taken centre stage. Full of typical Gallic passion, he has lambasted and grovelled in a yo-yo fashion over recent weeks with both the media and his players. The comments he has made when frustrated have been stunning, describing his squad as “cowards” back in the Six Nations, to sales gosses (spoiled brats) this week after they went out on the town rather than digesting their unconvincing win over Wales. The key words in this particular rant were not “undisciplined”, or “always whining” or “selfish”, but the damning statement that “it has been like this for four years.”

Fractious and bitter the last four years may have been, but they have not been without their share of success. In his time in charge, Lièvremont has seen France win a Grand Slam, beat New Zealand in their own backyard and defeat World Champions South Africa. His time has also seen the emergence of some brilliant young talent in French rugby; Morgan Parra, Maxime Médard, Alexis Palission and Maxime Mermoz will all start in the back division for France on Sunday, combining to good effect with the elder statesman of Aurélien Rougerie, Dimitri Yachvili and Vincent Clerc.

His selections have always been curious (anyone remember Benjamin Fall on the wing?) but switching Morgan Parra to fly-half this tournament really took le pompon. He travelled to this Rugby World Cup without some of French rugby’s biggest names; Frédéric Michalak, Clément Poitrenaud, Mathieu Bastareaud and Sébastian Chabal, and has effectively been proved right to have done so given that his side have reached the final. Sure it hasn’t been pretty, or convincing, but France are there. It may have seemed like chaos at times, but it’s further than Bernard Laporte ever got.

As if to give his side momentum in recent weeks, Lièvremont has grown an inspirational moustache which is proving to be a bit of a good luck charm. The “sleeping slug” has become his one last masterstroke, his parting gift to the Rugby world ahead of his final match in charge of the French national side before Phillipe Saint-André takes over. That last match just happens to be a Rugby World Cup final. You can just imagine his smug swagger walking into the press conference having lifted the William Webb Ellis Cup. For one of the game’s great characters over the last few years, it would be a wonderful finish.

by Ben Coles

10 thoughts on “Mad Marc’s reign could yet finish on a surprising high

  1. Anybody else find it ironic that he slightly resembles Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther? Somehow he has bumbled his way through the campaign, coming out with some pretty classic lines and yet could still finish on top.

    Every World Cup needs a bit of colour and despite Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu controversial tweeting and England’s frankly brilliant ability be a public relations nightmare, Lièvremont has been top notch for some truly epic headlines.

  2. love the Inspector Clouseau analergy, he`s got 30 squad members hiding in cubourds and behind curtains………NOT NOW CATO!!!

    1. The question is – Will they jump out on the unsuspecting kiwis, and deliver the cruellest of karate chops or will they end up frozen in the freezer (you need to know Pink Panther here!) and miss their chance!

      1. Sorry – before anyone says anything, I’ve just been told it was a fridge and Cato didn’t miss his chance to attack. However despite being totally factually incorrect, the analogy stands, albeit not half as convincingly!

        Wish I could alter posts!!

  3. Let’s not forget his anti-English comments before the tournament. I, for one, will be glad to see him gone.

  4. I for one am pretty nervous about Sunday. The worrying thing about France are that they have got to the final without playing very well at all. So if they do play well…

    I think it is fortunate that quite a few members of the AB squad have got relatively fresh and painful memories of being beaten by a French team that was heavily written off 4 years ago; there won’t be any complacency in their camp.

    Hurry up and kick off, this anticipation is killing me!

    1. With you on that one, cant wait for this game to kick off.
      The AB’S will be anything but unsuspecting I think, they are ready for this and they want it big time.

  5. Nobody can see the Frech doing it, but if there is one country in the world that likes that situation, then it is France.

    I think the All Blacks look really focused, really, really focused. I can’t see them putting in a bad game. However they haven’t been put under real pressure this tournement, because they are better than every other team, not their problem. They do have weaknesses, if the pressure comes on will the half-backs manage it? probably but this is not 87, there is still a little of the unknown about this team and that makes this final worth looking forward to.

    They blew Australia away up front, everybody knows thats how you play the Aussies, Ireland did the same. This French pack won’t back down, they will hold their own in the scrum and win their lineout ball, The question is what they will do with it afterwards and can their defence hold the Darkness when they do have possession. I don’t think they can. It is important to say that the French backrow tackling and disciplin has been outstanding, quarter-finals and semis only.

    The once area of advantage France have is kicking, Weepu kicked well against the Argies but had a mere against Aus. Para is a class kicker, 3/3 against Wales, not bad. He also kicked France to a Grandslam so he knows pressure. If France can make their tackles, slow it down, kick for position and turn the game into an 80min penalty shootout, they could do it.

    But I doubt it

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