Fabien Galthie named next French coach

Fabien Galthie (Getty Images)
Fabien Galthie (Getty Images)

Paris - Former captain Fabien Galthie will succeed Jacques Brunel as France head coach after this year's Rugby World Cup, French rugby federation chief Bernard Laporte confirmed on Sunday.

"I've named Fabien Galthie as coach," Laporte told local newspaper Berry Republicain.

Galthie, 50, won 64 caps as a scrumhalf and may work as an assistant to Brunel in the build-up to the World Cup in Japan from September 20, before taking over permanently on a contract until 2023 - when France will host the competition.

Galthie's appointment comes after French rugby clubs showed their opposition to a foreign coach in a referendum last month, blocking Laporte's favoured choice of Ireland's New Zealand-born coach Joe Schmidt who spent three years as an assistant at Clermont.

"My number one choice was Joe Schmidt, for one simple reason, he speaks French like you and I," Laporte had said on French radio.

Laporte opened the debate over a non-French coach in the wake of France finishing a disappointing fourth in this season's Six Nations.

France is alone among Europe's leading rugby union nations in never having employed a foreign head coach.

The 65-year-old Brunel has experienced a difficult tenure since replacing the sacked Guy Noves in 2017, winning only five games in 16 fixtures.

France have been drawn with England, Argentina, the United States and Tonga in a tough-looking Pool C at the World Cup.

Galthie led Stade Francais to the Top 14 title in 2007 and to the Top 14 and European Cup finals in 2005. He took Montpellier to a Top 14 final in 2011.

On Friday, another former France captain Raphael Ibanez  told AFP that he had accepted the position of manager of the team.

On Saturday, Laurent Labit, who is a coach at Racing 92, indicated he would become the French backs coach before the World Cup.

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