Azema on Lopez: Lies or incompetence

Date published: March 19 2015

Clermont boss Franck Azéma has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Camille Lopez accusing France of 'lies or incompetence'.

The Clermont fly-half was ruled out of Saturday's game with England yesterday, but was at the centre of a storm of accusations from the club and the national team about the knee injury that is keeping him out.

According to Philippe Saint-André, Lopez was training as usual on Wednesday morning, only to decide to pull out after speaking with Clermont in the afternoon.

The French boss expressed his concern that a player would prefer to play a European Champions Cup quarter-final (against Northampton on April 4) than a Test against England.

However Azéma has hit back, saying that the club have had a third opinion on the injury, and that he will be out for four to six weeks, meaning he'll miss the Northampton game.

Azéma, who had already had a run-in with the coaching staff back in October over Wesley Fofana, went on to strongly criticise the French coaching staff over their handling of the matter.

"Lies or incomptence, I don't know which," he said in a statement. "What I can see is that the French medical staff decided he was fit when the the diagnosis seems obvious to all the other doctors who have examined him.

"We've always played the game with the national team, sending very precise documents on our players to the coaching team, and we can't say that transparency has been reciprocal.

"I'm also very surprised and disappointed that our player has been put in an awkward position between the club and the national team. Camille didn't decide anything, he's injured.

"We've acted in his interested by trying to protect ihm. It wasn't a question of trying to preserve him for the club (given that we send 5-8 players to the French team and go above and beyond to ensure they are ready) or the national team, just to protect him. Given the risks on an already fragile cruciate ligament which could have ruptured according to the specialists, I don't understand what Camille was doing training. 

"Maybe they want to tempt fate, but we don't, we don't play about with our players' health."