World Cup - Lievremont: Wales a step up from England

Sun, 09 Oct 10:10:00 2011

France head coach Marc Lievremont began planning to topple Warren Gatland's Wales in the World Cup semi-finals by praising their performances so far.

France coach Marc Lievremont attends a news conference in Auckland October 9, 2011, a day after beating England in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final match at Eden Park. - 0

Les Bleus responded from defeat to Tonga with a 19-12 quarter-final victory over England at Eden Park in Auckland, while Wales advanced courtesy of a 22-10 defeat of Ireland in Wellington. Wales' World Cup has featured a narrow defeat to South Africa before wins over Samoa, Namibia, Fiji and Ireland.

Lievremont said: "They came out of the hardest pool, having lost to South Africa, when they deserved to win - I thought to myself they wouldn't recover from that."

He added: "They play a great style of rugby, more complete than what England showed in the tournament. The way they controlled Ireland was impressive.

"Fundamentally I think they're playing the same rugby of three years ago when they won the Grand Slam."

Wales finished fourth in the Six Nations and were beaten 28-9 by France in Paris in March. France have lost only two of their last 11 clashes, on the two occasions when Wales won the Grand Slam - in 2005 and 2008.

"Wales haven't always been the most consistent side," Lievremont added.

"The fact they're showing this consistency is encouraging for them. Warren Gatland has managed to freshen up his squad with some very talented players.

"They have mobile, brave forwards. The way they stood up to Ireland was impressive and there is a great understanding among the backs and a lot of speed.

"We're coming up against Jamie Roberts, the best centre since the start of the tournament without a doubt."

PA Sport

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