FRANCE coach Marc Lievremont signed off from his role today, having one final jibe at the media after a tempestuous battle throughout the rugby World Cup.
Lievremont's side lost the final to New Zealand 8-7 yesterday, which ended the hosts' 24-year drought between victorious World Cup campaigns but also prolonged the French side's agony. It was their third final and third loss.
The former France international, who is being replaced by Philippe Saint-Andre as national coach, sparred with his country's media throughout the tournament, particularly after a series of performances that prompted heavy criticism.
"My contract ends today and I didn't want you guys to miss me very much," Lievremont told reporters in Auckland.
"In the weeks and months ahead, it will be up to someone else to tell you about the French team."
France lost two matches in the pool phase to New Zealand and Pacific islanders Tonga and lurched into the final following a 9-8 win over 14-man Wales in the semi-final.
Lievremont reportedly also battled with some of his players, labelling them "spoiled brats" after a small group ignored his instructions not to go out and celebrate following their semi-final victory.
Led by the superb Thierry Dusautoir, however, France almost upset the All Blacks at Eden Park with an aggressive effort that suffocated the New Zealanders' attacking prowess and turned the match into an arm wrestle.
"We made it to the final. We made the All Blacks tremble and that is where we are now," Lievremont said.
"I thought the performance of the French players was beautiful. They put in a great performance. They played great rugby.
"We were looking for three consecutive wins and it wasn't there. It is hard when you are up against a whole nation."
Lievremont, who said after the final he only had two words to say to his team -- "thank you" -- hoped the players would forgive his slip of the tongue after the semi-finals and eventually come to respect what he had done with the team in his four years in charge.
"That is a term (spoiled brats) I use with my brothers and sisters," he said.
"I take responsibility for that and the timing wasn't probably right. I know some of them were not happy with me.
"I have great admiration for my players and I hope in the coming weeks they will feel the same way about me."