French rugby in 2019 might have provided little by way of any decent on-pitch entertainment, such was their poor level of performance in a Six Nations where they signed off with a shaky win over Italy to secure a fourth place finish.


However, the entertainment generated off the field has been boundless all year, the latest development being the decision of French rugby president Bernard Laporte to hold a referendum on whether the next coach of the national team should be a foreigner. 

Having only appointed Jacques Brunel following the December 2017 sacking of Guy Noves, the French believed they would not have to seek out a new national team head coach until June 2020 at the earliest.

However, Brunel’s run of terrible results have left Laporte not only deciding a replacement is needed after the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup in Japan, he has felt obliged to canvass opinion on whether or not it is acceptable to the French rugby grassroots to appoint a foreigner to the job. 

No overseas coach has previously held the position of France national team coach. But rather than use his own power to appoint whoever he likes to the role, Laporte has incredibly launched a referendum in order to get the green light to potentially appoint a non-French coach such as Warren Gatland.

Overseas candidates of the calibre of the New Zealander have been spoken about as possible contenders for the position, with Gatland particularly in demand after Wales’ latest Grand Slam success in the Six Nations.


Following a steering committee meeting held in France in Friday, it was decided in a letter that would be sent to all the amateur clubs throughout the country that a referendum is needed on the possibility of recruiting a foreign coach to prepare for the 2023 World Cup which will be hosted by France.

This consultation will open April 9 and will finish two days later on April 11. Each club throughout France will have one vote each, regardless of the size of its staff. The results of this consultation will then be certified by a bailiff and made public on April 12 on the FFR website.

Video Spacer

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now