Jacques Brunel named as the new head coach of France

In wake of poor 2017 results, Guy Noves replaced by former Italy and Perpignan coach

Former Italy boss Jacques Brunel has been named as the new French head coach. Photograph: Getty Images

Former Italy boss Jacques Brunel has been named as the new French head coach. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Ireland’s first opponents in the upcoming Six Nations Championship France will be under new management as the French Rugby Federation (FFR) confirmed on Wednesday that Jacques Brunel will replace Guy Noves.

The decision was confirmed by FFR President Bernard Laporte in a statement and follows a review after France’s November test series in which they lost three of four test matches, twice to New Zealand, once to South Africa and only managing a 23-23 draw with 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts, Japan, in what transpired to be Noves last game in charge.

The 63-year-old, who won four European Cups at Toulouse, succeeded Philippe Saint Andre as France’s head coach after the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England but failed to match the success of his club days, winning just seven of 21 test matches at a win ratio of a little under 36 per cent.

It was never going to suffice and his position would not have been helped by a less than warm relationship with Laporte dating back to the days when the two men coached against one another in the French Top 14.

Once Laporte delivered the 2023 Rugby World Cup to France his hand would have been strengthened considerably to begin to make the changes he believes are necessary to revive the fortunes of the French national side. The largely poor results under Noves gave him the latitude to instigate change.

He said in a statement released by the FFR. “I wish it had lasted all the way to (the 2019 Rugby World Cup in) Japan with Guy and his staff but at some point, something had to be done. We could not stay that way anymore and we took our responsibility. This is a painful situation for him and for us but we could not continue like this.

“Several people could have aspired to (the job) but I know Jacques Brunel well. He has the experience. He is the person who can shoulder this heavy responsibility.”

Brunel, 63, a former assistant coach of the French national side from 2001-2007, guided Perpignan to a French Top 14 title in 2009 and again made the final the following season before losing to Clermont Auvergne. That club success coupled with his international experience persuaded Italy to appoint him as head coach a position he held until stepping down in 2016 to be replaced by Conor O’Shea.

During his time in charge of the Italian national side he enjoyed first ever Six Nations Championship victories over France and in 2013, Ireland.

He decided to step down at the end of the 2015-2016 season and took up a position subsequently as forwards’ coach at Bordeaux Begles and then head coach, a position he’ll relinquish next weekend.

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