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Gustard breaks quit silence after Benetton appoint ex-Exeter coach

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

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Ex-England assistant Paul Gustard has broken his silence over his decision to quit Benetton, the Italian URC franchise who have appointed Julian Salvi, the assistant sacked by Exeter on April 29. Rather than see his three-year contract through to its expiry, Gustard has quit Treviso after just a year for a shot at working in the Top 14 as defence coach at Gonzalo Quesada’s Stade Francais.

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That left Benetton with vacancies to fill and while their defence coach position is still vacant, they have recruited two other new assistant coaches, skills coach Alessandro Troncon and Salvi, who will be responsible for the breakdown and the contact area.

It was Monday when Exeter confirmed that Omar Mouneimne, the ex-Bristol defence coach, would replace Salvi. He was given his cards at the Chiefs at the end of April following an underwhelming season where they defensively fell off the pace in the Gallagher Premiership and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

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The Australian, who had been on Rob Baxter’s staff since 2018, hasn’t had to wait long to find a new job, though, as his arrival in Italy was trumpeted by Benetton just six weeks after he exited Sandy Park.

Gustard’s decision to leave Italy first emerged on May 20 when French media speculated that he was being lined up to switch from Treviso to Paris and that move was confirmed on Tuesday evening this week.

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This choice by the former Harlequins boss to move on from Benetton after just one year was amicable. “I thank president (Amerino) Zatta, Antonio (Pavanello) and Marco (Bortolami) for the opportunity to represent Benetton,” said Gustard. “It’s a great club with brilliant people. My family and I really enjoyed ourselves here.

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“I also want to thank the players for their efforts, energy, love and hard work. There is a lot of talent in the group and they can take advantage of the improvements we have made this year and continue to achieve a lot more.

“The move to Stade Francais is bittersweet because I really enjoyed myself in Treviso, but the opportunity to represent the Parisian club, which is one of the most iconic clubs in world rugby, was hard to turn down. I will always be a Benetton fan and I wish the club only good things. Come on, Lions.”

General manager Pavanello added: “We want to thank Paul for the contribution he made during this season and for the work done with the team from a defensive point of view. The club, once it took note of Gustard’s request, immediately moved to find a profile with the right characteristics.

“The profile has been identified and will be made official in the coming days. Furthermore, as announced, the technical staff of next season will be enriched by two further figures, Alessandro Troncon and Julian Salvi. These will respectively cover the role of skills coach and breakdown and contact area specialist.”

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