Following months of speculation, Shaun Edwards has been officially named the new defence coach of France after he parted ways with Wales following twelve years alongside Warren Gatland.
He joins Fabien Galthie’s extensive team, as they seek to rebuild French rugby after Jacques Brunel’s reign and a number of years in the doldrums.
This appointment has evoked quite a reaction from the world of rugby, as it is such a huge difference in cultures.
That is why some believe Edwards can be the catalyst to turn this undoubtedly talented French team into world champions in 2023, and even Six Nations winners in 2020, and some also think this may not be too successful.
Since his time at Wasps and Wales with Gatland, Edwards has been a merciless taskmaster and has built a Wales team famed for their defence and fitness. In fact, they won the Grand Slam this year purely on the back of their defence, as they scored the fewest tries in the championship.
— Midi Libre Sports (@MidiLibreSports) November 13, 2019
If they actually listen to Shaun Edwards they have to be worth a punt to win. If he can give them a defence, even a solid one, you have to be excited for them, and a little scared for everyone else!
— Phil Evans (@bigphilgj) November 13, 2019
This is either going to end very well for France (winning the 2023 RWC), or it is going to end spectacularly badly.
— Small Man Peaky (@jonnymango95) November 13, 2019
This was always Edwards’ approach since his days in rugby league with Wigan, England and Britain. He expects his players to buy into this mentality, which he has inculcated into the Wales team over the years, particularly in the famed training camps that they were made to endure.
The problem that Edwards faces is the fact that his ethos seems to be the diametric opposite of French rugby’s over the past decade. This is a team that are notoriously capricious, who revolted against their coach Marc Lievremont in 2011, and supposedly did the very same thing with Brunel at this recent RWC.
If he is given the backing then I think this could be one of the shrewdest appointments around. Will make an immense difference to a side who showed potential glimpses of brilliance on attack #Edwards #FrenchRugby
— Graeme Peacock (@graemepeacock05) November 13, 2019
Can’t wait to see how Shaun Edwards gets on with France.
They couldn’t have picked a better character type to sort out their problems but if there’s one thing the French love it’s a revolutiooooonnnnnn ??
— Robbie Field (@Reezus05) November 13, 2019
To make matters worse, a lack of fitness has been endemic across French rugby over the past few years, from the national team to the clubs.
This is the bedrock in which Edwards’ defence is built upon and may require some monumental changes to the approach of the players. It is this clash of cultures which will be the hardest hurdle to overcome for four-time Grand Slam winning coach.
If shaun Edwards is still France defence coach they will win the next world cup
— michael watkins (@gummy121283) November 13, 2019
Shaun Edwards is about to transform French rugby
— Luke (@_LukeMoo) November 13, 2019
After winning the past two World Rugby Under-20 Championships, France arguably have the most promising team in international rugby and the world got a glimpse of their emerging stars at the RWC.
If Edwards can click with this team, it is understandable why so many think they could become a force once again.
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