Fabien Galthie is expected to join the France coaching team as early as next week, reports in France suggest. The result of a referendum of France’s 1,800 clubs on whether an overseas coach should take over from Jacques Brunel at the helm of the national side in 2020 was due on this Friday.
But, while all rugby eyes focused on the outcome of the vote organised by FFR President Bernard Laporte, news of Galthie’s impending arrival on a short-term consultancy basis – following weeks of rumours – has slipped out.
Laporte said he would respect the referendum result, which will decide whether he can continue talks with foreign coaches with whom he has said he is already in contact for the 2023 World Cup, or if he should refocus his search among French clubs and French coaches.
Speculation over who will be the next coach of Les Bleus has been rife for some time. Laporte has said he will make an appointment before the World Cup in Japan kicks off. Among the overseas possibles, speculation in France favours current Wales coach Warren Gatland.
More pressing matters, however, have forced him to seek to bring in “new ideas and expertise to the staff” after another dismal Six Nations campaign. It was suspected early on that former France international scrum-half Galthie was the president’s preferred choice to work alongside long-time friend and colleague, Jacques Brunel.
La foire du trône en UNE de Midi Olympique
— Midi Olympique (@midi_olympique) April 11, 2019
Former Ireland fly-half Ronan O Gara was also linked to a short-term freelance position in the set-up – but talks fell down over his financial demands, French rugby media said.
Brunel met Galthie 10 days ago, Midi Olympique reports, when the pair discussed the parameters of possible roles in the set-up. Since then, they have begun setting up the framework that will allow the former scrum-half to join the coaching team in time for the World Cup in Japan.
Galthie would be an addition to the coaching staff, rather than a replacement for another coach, Midi said. He is keen to bring in at least one physical coach to bolster the strength and conditioning team. The FFR would probably be open to that wish.
He has not coached a senior male side since being ousted from the Toulon hotseat at the end of the 2017/18 season, but he had a front row seat to France’s Six Nations’ performances in his role as a pundit for broadcaster France 2.
Tell us what you think about the Rugby World Cup and you could win £100