Sacking Lievremont a non-issue: FRF

by staff

French Rugby Federation president Pierre Camou says he has never considered sacking besieged France coach Marc Lievremont despite the historic Six Nations defeat by Italy.

Camou, who replaced Bernard Lapasset after the 2007 World Cup, added that even defeat against Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday would not shake his faith in Lievremont.

Both Lievremont and Camou have come under fire this week following the 22-21 loss to Italy at the weekend.

For Lievremont, who last year led France to a first Grand Slam since 2004, the humiliation at Italy's hands followed heavy defeats by Argentina, South Africa and Australia.

Camou, meanwhile, has been pilloried for not replacing Lievremont, who came under fire from journalists and club coaches alike for accusing his players of cowardice and betraying their country in the loss to Italy.

"Never. No, I never even envisaged it," replied Camou when pressed on whether he had thought about firing Lievremont.

"The France team is the shop window of French rugby. There are major questions about French rugby, which are better dealt with when things are calm.

"If the only solution was to change one or two or three players then everybody would know the answer to the question.

"But the questions go deeper than that. What happened (against Italy)? How does one put together again a squad for the short term goal (the World Cup in New Zealand)?

"These are the questions that I am asking myself. And that each one of us, myself primarily, assume their responsibilities."

Camou, who was FFR vice-president under Lapasset and privy to the shock decision to appoint the inexperienced Lievremont to replace Bernard Laporte after the 2007 World Cup, said defeat to Wales would not change his mind.

"I don't even think about it while I am shaving," he said.

Camou denied that he or any member of the FFR hierarchy had contacted legendary Toulouse coach Guy Noves about replacing Lievremont following the 59-16 record home defeat by Australia last November.

"That's news to me. No," he said when quizzed about the rumour.

Camou also refused to be drawn on Noves's comments this week that neither Lievremont nor his assistant coaches, Emile Ntamack and Didier Retiere, were sufficiently qualified to be in charge of the national side.

"I will not comment on Mr Noves's remarks, but he has the right to think what he wants to," said Camou.

Camou, who excused Lievremont for the outburst against the players, said he was far from pessimistic about how the year would pan out.

"I recall that before the 1999 World Cup (where a France side including Lievremont lost to Australia in the final), we finished bottom in the Five Nations (it became the Six Nations the following year when Italy were invited to join)."