The French rugby team is in complete disarray ahead of their quarterfinal showdown with the English. “That’s so French…” we can all say to ourselves as we pour over the latest accounts of squad mutinies, broken down relationships and absurdist outbursts – but nothing quite sums it up the state of titsupness in the French camp like hearing the coach Marc Lievremont tear into his own players after their loss to Tonga:
“I thought I had experienced everything in terms of shame. But this time round, it’s been an extremely violent feeling again. Each missed pass, each missed tackle, I took them as a deep personal failure.”
“We live in a society where image matters,” Lievremont said. “I saw players with their agent on the eve and after the game instead of regrouping as a team”.
“I believe in the men, in a group who hopefully know how to pick themselves up,” he said. “I have got experienced and talented players. But maybe not as talented as I thought.“
Nice one. That’s classy Marc. About as classy as a South African government employee handling a visa application from the Dalai Lama. Yip, and further confirming Lièvremont status as a first class plank, he managed to channel his inner Rudolf Straueli when he suggested his solution for getting his team back on track to win the World Cup. His idea? For the players to have a piss up, presumably followed by some sort of intimate bonding at a cross-dressing Japanese karaoke bar (because that’s how those kinds of evenings usually end):
“I’ve never been against sharing a few beers together, in order to get things out in the open, and that’s a possible option for us.”
Unfortunately for Lièvremont his hoped for post match bonding session didn’t materialise – it turns out his own players don’t like him much. The players took their beers and simply buggered off:
“I would have preferred it if we had shared a glass, spoken about it and just agreed that it is still a fine adventure,” he said.
Oh well. So much for that theory. I would have loved to have seen CCTV footage of Lièvremont signing the credit card slip at the end of the night – having to pay for all the booze and no-one around to share the moment with him.
Speaking of CCTV footage, the English preparation is not a heck of a lot better. Between dwarf-tossing, sexually harrassing waitresses and switching rugby balls (in other words a typical on week on tour with the English squad) there is much talk of the wheels coming off of English rugby.
The match is lining up to a clash of playing styles. Wilkinson’s boot and versus French flair. The English forwards rumble versus the French backs unpredictability.
So where should you be putting your money this weekend? Well… if there is one thing I have learned from watching years of World Cup Rugby it is that you can safely and reliably write the French off. If they have absolutely noooo chance of winning – you can bank on that. In fact, I’d go so far to say that the French are so predictable, you can put your money down against them, not even bother to watch the game and head straight to your local bookie to collect your winnings.
France have neeeeeverrrrrrrrr surprised anybody…