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James Coughlan poised to take charge at Biarritz – report

By Liam Heagney
James Coughlan in his playing days with Munster (Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former Munster and Pau No8 James Coughlan has been linked with a return to the game in France as the new sporting director of Biarritz, the Pro D2 strugglers.

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Olympique are a very different club these days from their Top 14 title-winning heyday of the mid-noughties, an era accompanied by two appearances in the Heineken European Cup final.

They are currently 14th in the second-tier table and not yet mathematically safe from the drop with two matches remaining in their 2023/24 campaign.

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However, change is afoot following the recent departure of owner Jean-Baptiste Aldige and L’Equipe have reported that Coughlan, who has taken a year out from coaching after assisting Toulon to EPCR Challenge Cup glory last term in Dublin, has been tipped to take over the team.

If he does, he would become the second Irishman at the helm in Biarritz in the last decade as Eddie O’Sullivan, the former Ireland head coach, was in charge there for the 2014/15 season following their top-flight relegation. He exited just months into the following season.

Nine years later, Coughlan is now poised to take charge. “The revolution is taking shape at Biarritz Olympique,” began the L’Equipe report. “With the departure of Jean-Baptiste Aldige confirmed, the buyers, led by Shaun Hegarty, Flip van der Merwe and Marc Baget, are busy preparing for next season.

“The 14th team in Pro D2 are looking for a new sporting director. According to our information, they have set their sights on the Irishman James Coughlan (43 years old). Discussions are well-advanced between the two parties.

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“The former Munster and Pau back-rower has had several experiences on French staff, first as coach of the forwards of Provence Rugby and then as head of defence for Brive and then Toulon.

“According to our information, he could be accompanied by Boris Bouhraoua (39 years old) who has played for Stade Francais but also for the Algerian national team. His profile as a coach pleases Biarritz very much.”

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