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RUGBY

French coach tells journalist to ‘go to hell’ as media relations sour

France coach Marc Lievremont has rounded on journalists covering the French World Cup campaign, saying some of them take delight in seeing the French team lose.

French coach tells journalist to 'go to hell' as media relations sour
Alain Thomas (file)

His comments came the day after France lost heavily 37-17 to the All Blacks at Eden Park in the crunch match in Pool A.

When asked by a French journalist at the end of that match if his team could still win the World Cup Lievremont angrily replied: “Go to hell with your question. The goal was and still is to qualify (for the quarter-finals.)

Addressing his relations with the press the day after the match, Lievremont said: “I really regret the detestable atmosphere that we have at these press conferences.

“I am sorry that we cannot work together in a climate of confidence and have exchanges that are useful for both sides.

“For a long time I hoped this would be the case but manifestly it is not.

“Often I come out (of the press conference) annoyed and upset because I sense this atmosphere.”

Lievremont, who has already been told his contract will not be renewed at the end of the World Cup, said he knew how the press worked and he claimed that certain journalists wanted to see France lose because that is what they had predicted.

“I have just got to take it all on the chin and make sure that it does not pollute my squad and my relations with my players. That is the most important thing,” he said.

Lievremont, who played flanker in the French team that reached the 1999 World Cup final, was a surprise appointment as national team coach four years ago, taking over from Bernard Laporte after the last World Cup.

But relations between him and sections of the French press have steadily deteriorated, especially over criticism of his ever-changing selection policies, and the ill-feeling has been apparent in New Zealand.

The French won their first two matches against Japan and Canada and need just one point against Tonga in their final match next Saturday to ensure a place in the quarter-finals and a likely showdown with England, who defeated France in the semi-finals in Paris four years ago.

The All Blacks scored five tries for a convincing bonus point victory over their World Cup nemesis.

New Zealand gave the full house 60,800 Eden Park crowd what they wanted with a dominant display to justify their tournament favouritism and take a five-point lead in Pool A with one game left in the group stage.

The All Blacks controlled all but the opening 10 minutes to part-exorcise the demons of their stunning quarter-final exit to the French at the 2007 World Cup.

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SPORT

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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