Dimitri Yachvili concedes that he was not happy with the criticism handed down by coach Marc Lièvremont after France’s poor start to the World Cup.
Lièvremont, who in March called his team “cowards” after they lost to Italy, held no punches in his assessment of France’s 47-21 win over Japan on Saturday.
Where in the past the coach has lambasted the team as a whole, this time he took to picking out individuals and was particularly critical of flanker Imanol Harinordoquy and the half-back pairing of Yachvili and Francois Trinh-Duc.
“His conduct (against Japan) annoyed me,” Lievremont said of Harinordoquy.
“We know his talent, and very often he was extremely amateurish in certain phases. Given his experience and the role he has in this team, it’s annoying.”
The 42-year-old added that Yachvili and Trinh-Duc looked “laboured during the match”.
Lièvremont added that his team’s play was: “polluted with approximations, technical errors, indiscipline”.
His statements appear to have gone down poorly with members of the French team.
“It’s a real pleasure, it’s touching,” said a sarcastic Yachvili on Tuesday.
“No, I would prefer to be told directly rather than going through the press. He spoke out in anger. I probably deserved him saying it, or not. (But) I would rather it happened another way.
“At Biarritz over the last four years, if they had something to tell me they did it to my face without problem,” he added.
“It has to stay intimate because it’s something that stays between the coach and the player. A coach has to be a bit of a psychologist as well.”
However, the number nine stressed that he held no ill feeling towards Lièvremont.
“He’s under a lot of pressure from the press as well. I don’t hold it against him,” said the number nine.
“But it’s up to me to prove him wrong, as well.”
Yachvili went on to say that while they had not performed well, the players had achieved their most important goal.
“What you need to do is fulfill your end of the bargain (and win), which is what we did.”
“Which is why I find it a bit upsetting when I hear certain things, because the essential thing is to win, even though we didn’t do it in style. What would people have said if we had won 28-27?”
Yachvili drops to the replacements bench for France’s clash with Canada on Sunday in one of twelve changes to the team that faced Japan.
The mass of changes is typical of Lièvremont’s style which was questioned by a French journalist after the match with Cherry Blossoms.
“Certain (people) wouldn’t hesitate to stir up the fact that perhaps these mistakes stem from poor management, from permanently rotating the team,” he responded defensively.
“I remain convinced that you have to involve 30 players over the two matches.”