The French Rugby Federation should throw the chequebook at Joe Schmidt in order to sign him as head coach of their national side, according to former England and British and Irish Lions wing Ugo Monye.
Les Bleus are enduring a turbulent period under the guidance of current head coach Jacques Brunel, who has lost the faith of his players who are reportedly plotting a revolt against him following an extremely poor run of results.
Under Brunel’s stewardship, France have lost nine of their last 10 tests, which have included a first-ever loss to Fiji, their biggest defeat to England in more than a century, a second half capitulation which led to defeat against Wales, and a three-match series pummelling at the hands of New Zealand last year.
Their losses to Wales and England over the last fortnight means their Six Nations aspirations have been left in tatters with three matches still to play, and this has been reflected in the world rankings, where they have slipped below second-tier Fiji into an all-time low of 10th place.
Now just seven months out from the World Cup, Monye said that the French are the worst-coached team in the Six Nations, and believes that they need to sign a New Zealand coach to fix their woes.
“I would be paying whatever it is to get Joe Schmidt to France,” he said on the BBC.
As the reigning World Rugby Coach of the Year, Schmidt has led Ireland to their most successful period in the professional era, elevating them to as high as second on the world rankings after claiming their maiden two victories over the All Blacks, clinching three Six Nations titles in their last five campaigns, and winning World Team of the Year for the first time last year.
Schmidt comes off contract with the Ireland Rugby Football Union at the end of this year’s World Cup, and has publicly stated he intends to take time away from the game to focus on his family, with his son suffering from epilepsy and having previously battled a brain tumour when he was younger.
But Monye believes that the FFR need to do everything in their power to get Schmidt on board, stating that France’s lack of southern hemisphere influence has left them behind their Six Nations rivals.
The 35-year-old said that the French language barrier has prevented top quality southern hemisphere coaches – such as Schmidt, Eddie Jones and Warren Gatland – from taking the reigns of the French national side.
“You can get anyone in the southern hemisphere to come up and coach in the northern hemisphere, in England, Wales, Ireland or Scotland and it’s no problem,” the 16-test international said.
“But to try to get the message across [in France] is so difficult.”
However, Schmidt has previous coaching experience in France, having assisted fellow New Zealander Vern Cotter at Clermont from 2007 to 2010, and has a good understanding of the language, making him an ideal candidate for the job.
“He coached there [with Clermont] for a few years and he’s fluent in French,” Monye said.
There are many southern hemisphere coaches currently plying their trade in the Top 14, with former Scotland coach Cotter in charge of Montpellier, while former Springboks boss Heyneke Meyer is head coach of Stade Francais.
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