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Exclusive: Former Bath and Toulon coach Mike Ford on verge of shock international return

Mike Ford is in talks with the German Rugby Federation (DRV) about a sensational return to international rugby union.

RugbyPass understands Ford, the former Bath and Toulon boss who has also worked for England, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions, has been in negotiations with DRV president, Robin Stalker, about leading Germany into November’s Rugby World Cup Repechage in Marseille.

A source with knowledge of the talks intimated that a deal was close, although it is not expected to be completed until next week at the earliest.

Stalker, who was named DRV president at the beginning of July, is on the lookout for a new head coach after previous incumbent Pablo Lemoine decided to return to South America having led the national team through its 2018 Test campaign alongside former England forward Mouritz Botha.

Germany are scheduled to play Canada, Hong Kong and Kenya at Marseille’s Stade Delort between November 11 and 23 for a place in Pool B of next year’s World Cup.

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Ford is currently head coach of the Dallas Griffins, but should the lure of the Japan 2019 prove too great, then he would join the DRV at a tumultuous time.

Germany’s bid to qualify for the World Cup was almost derailed by a player and coach strike at the turn of the year, which emanated from a stand-off between the union and its main benefactor, Dr. Hans-Peter Wild.

German-born billionaire Dr. Wild, who also owns Stade Francais, subsequently withdrew his funding completely in June after the club side Heidelberger RK were denied a place in next season’s Challenge Cup.

There has since been a thawing of relations between the DRV and Dr. Wild, however, and the businessman was present in Heidelberg as Germany slipped to a 42-28 second-leg defeat to Samoa.

Dr. Wild has offered to pay the union €2 million per year for the next five years, should another two sponsors be found with comparable offers.

It is unclear whether those funds have been made available to Stalker in his pursuit of Ford.

Speaking to media following the second-leg defeat to Samoa in Heidelberg, which came just six days after he took over as president, Stalker insisted his first aim was to modernise the DRV.

“We need to significantly professionalise the union,” he said. “That is one of the advantages of the new constitution of the union, that we split the praesidium from the operating management and we will appoint operating management, full-time, which they haven’t had really in the past.

“I think that’s going to be a great help. I’m not a rugby guy but I do know about organisation.”

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Exclusive: Former Bath and Toulon coach Mike Ford on verge of shock international return | RugbyPass