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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Lievremont appointed France coach
Marc Lievremont
Lievremont takes over from Bernard Laporte as France coach
Former France flanker Marc Lievremont has been named coach of the nation's rugby team on a four-year deal.

The French Rugby Federation announced that Lievremont would succeed Bernard Laporte, who joined the government on Monday as a junior minister for sport.

Lievremont will be assisted by another former France star Emile Ntamack, who will coach the backs, while Didier Retiere will look after the forwards.

Lievremont, 38, the former Dax coach, won 25 France caps between 1995-1999.

"I realise that I am at the centre of a lot of attention and of hopes for the future," he said.

"I also understand that some people are disappointed, legitimately or not, but I consider myself to be a man with convictions surrounding both the sport and on the human front.

"I have not asked for anything from anyone. I respect all the coaches who were viable candidates for the post, but it is not for me to justify what has happened."

The appointment was heavily supported by Bernard Lapasset, the outgoing president of the French Rugby Federation and new president of the International Rugby Board, but not by Serge Blanco.

This is not a dictator's decree, taken exclusively by me

Outgoing French rugby president Bernard Lapasset

Blanco, the former French full-back and now president of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), said a comprehensive review was needed of the World Cup and Laporte's eight-year reign before a new coach was selected.

"I don't know why the LNR was not consulted about this," said Blanco, who is favourite to replace Lapasset.

However, Lapasset rejected Blanco's criticism.

"These nominations are part of a four-year plan," he said. "This is not an individual choice but a long-term project and was discussed with the other coaches of professional rugby teams.

"This is not a dictator's decree, taken exclusively by me."

Lapasset added that while both Lievremont and Ntamack lacked experience they had the vital quality that they knew the young generation of French players well.

"It is important that the French squad integrates the young players coming through," said Lapasset.

"And it is they who know them best and who guided them to the Under-21 world title (in June 2006)."


Jean-Claude Skrela, the technical director of French rugby, said: "Marc Lievremont is a real player, a winner who never lets go and he knows the players in the French championship well.

"He was the ideal candidate for what is a turning point for French rugby."

Lievremont, whose last international was the 1999 World Cup final defeat against Australia, will work alongside Jo Maso, who stays on in his role of team manager.

Other candidates thought to be under consideration for the coaching job were Toulouse's Guy Noves, Stade Francais chief Fabien Galthie and Sale Sharks boss Philippe Saint-Andre.

The 37-year-old Ntamack made 46 appearances for France from 1994 to 2000. He and Retiere were the joint coaches of the France Under-21 side that won the world title last year.

France, who won the Six Nations four times under Laporte, finished fourth in the World Cup on home soil after being knocked out by England in the semi-finals and losing to Argentina in the play-off.

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