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Thursday 14 December 2017

Bleary-eyed Lievremont sets sights on World Cup

France will not rest on their laurels after a first grand slam success since 2004 and have many challenges ahead, said coach Marc Lievremont.

France secured the Six Nations title and a grand slam after winning a bruising encounter 12-10 against England in Paris on Saturday.

It was Lievremont's first triumph since he became national coach after the 2007 World Cup but, despite a lack of sleep, he was in an uncompromising mood on Sunday.

"We don't take anything for granted and we still have to face lots of challenges, the first one being to carry on winning, playing a better game with more control of the matches," he said. "Our other challenges are to win away in South Africa, in England, in Ireland, in Argentina, to win the championship and a grand slam in an odd year (when France play three games away).

"I forgot about the World Cup, let's add we still have to win the World Cup," he quipped.

The bleary-eyed France coach was late arriving for the press conference after an extended night of celebration.

"Sorry folks, it's impossible to be still at the Pousse Au Crime (a bar) at 10 o'clock and on time for a press conference at 12," he said.

Lievremont at first refused to take stock of the championship victory.

"I think I shall assess it tomorrow or the day after when I'll be back with my family and enjoy peace and quiet because for the time being I'm overcome by relief and joy," he said.

After his assistants Emile Ntamack and Didier Retiere, who were in slightly better shape, had fielded the first questions, Lievremont admitted his team "had not defeated England because of the quality of their game".

"We won because of the team's spirit, because of the solidarity of the players, of their courage, of their intelligence and of their will to fetch something we didn't dare to talk about out of modesty," he added.

"Good field kicking, good defence and above all a very, very strong scrum also helped us."

The France coach also said that to win a grand slam was bringing him and his team "a kind of comfort".

"Things are setting up gently. Coaching the French team teaches you patience, perseverance and modesty. There is still a lot of work to do but it will be easier with a grand slam behind us and we know we now have a team that can do great things."

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