| AUCKLAND, Sept 29
AUCKLAND, Sept 29 If there are deep divisions
and rumblings of rebellion running through the French camp at
the rugby World Cup, it is news to the squad's defence guru Dave
Ellis at least.
Reports about rifts between France coach Marc Lievremont and
his players have been rife in the French media since before the
tournament started, sparking fears of a meltdown like that
suffered by the country's team at last year's soccer World Cup.
Englishman Ellis, the 'Rosbif' who has been helping organise
the French defence for the last 12 years, said any putative
uprisings had entirely escaped his notice.
"It's quite interesting because lots of friends back home in
England or in France send me text messages or emails asking how
I am and how I'm coping with all the problems," he told Reuters.
"I have to say, what problems?"
The Yorkshireman, speaking before the team headed to
Wellington for their final Pool A match against Tonga, said the
perception of a troubled camp might come from Lievremont's
sometimes abrasive relationship with the media.
"It's just that Marc at some of the press conferences gets
agitated with some of the questions and that evidently makes
people think there's a spanner in the works with everything else
that's going on," he added.
"If there's problems going on, I certainly haven't seen
'DO OR DIE'
Ellis, one of the most highly-regarded defence coaches in
rugby, thinks with victories over Japan and Canada and a defeat
to the All Blacks, France's World Cup campaign had started
pretty much as most would have predicted.
"If you are going to win the World Cup and you're in a pool
with the All Blacks, you're never going to beat them twice in
their own country," he said.
"It's a case of qualifying and if you finish first or
second, once you get into the quarter-finals, it's do or die,
you've got to win the game."
While disappointed with some of the defending against the
All Blacks in last week's 37-17 defeat, Ellis said knowing
France would still be alive even if they lost, and would be in
the easier half of the draw, may have played a part in the loss.
"You don't know how that affected them, knowing that you've
always got a second chance, a get-out-of-jail card if you like,"
"I imagine it's had some sort of effect, knowing that if you
get to the quarter-finals you're going to be playing England and
then in the semi-finals it's either South Africa-Australia or
"No disrespect to Ireland or Wales but I know which
everybody's choice would be."
France need just one point from their final pool match
against the Tongans in Wellington on Saturday to progress to a
likely quarter-final against England and Ellis said he thought
they could still go all the way in the tournament.
"What you've got to look at with France is that with all the
other major countries, they need to build consistency," he
"England need to build consistency and they've got to be
getting better and better all the time. With the French, they
have ups and downs but they can always pull one out of the bag.
"They can have a shocker, like in certain periods against
the All Blacks, but then the following week they can come out
and raise the standards and beat the best in the world.
"I think that's the worrying factor for the other teams,
knowing that while France are in the competition, that could
happen to anybody."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)
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