Brunel takes over as France coach

by AFP

New France coach Jacques Brunel told AFP that his immediate ambition is to win the Six Nations and end the negative spiral which has enveloped the struggling national team.

Bordeaux boss Brunel, 63, takes over from Guy Noves who became the first French coach to be sacked on Wednesday after a meagre seven wins from 22 matches alongside 14 defeats and a humiliating home draw with 2019 World Cup hosts Japan.

Under his watch France lost six consecutive games between June and November this year.

"Our aim is to win the Six Nations," former Italy coach Brunel told AFP.

"Perhaps in the past, we were too focused on winning the World Cup and not enough on the present moment and that is the Six Nations. Every year, France must be competitive for the final victory."

Jacques Brunel was the Bordeaux coach. Photo: AFPBrunel joins the national set-up from Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles just five weeks before France face Ireland in their Six Nations opener.

His contract stretches to the 2019 World Cup.

"We have to go back to the simple things," added Brunel with the Six Nations opener against Ireland just five weeks away.

To help him, Brunel will be able to call upon the experience of a range of Top 14 coaches who will bring their special skills to the national squad up to the 2019 World Cup where France will attempt to win the trophy for the first time.

Those coaches, however, will remain employees of their respective clubs.

"Ideally I would like a scrummaging and line-out specialist and two or three more general specialists," he explained.

"But I think that, because of the proximity of the Six Nations, it will be difficult to get everyone together quickly."

He refused to speculate on who will be his right-hand men.

"I'm going to sound out the coaches tomorrow (Thursday), see how much they want to come and that means involving their club presidents."

Bernard Laporte spoke at the announcement. Photo: AFPFrench rugby federation president Bernard Laporte hailed Brunel for his passion "of man and rugby".

"That's his major strength. He is able to assume this responsibility which is not an easy one. He has broad shoulders and experience," said the French rugby chief.

On the ill-fated Noves' era, Laporte added: "We couldn't continue heading towards the wall. We had to return to the table to find new solutions, because a France team that is not winning means a federation and a sport is dying."

Brunel was once ex France boss Laporte's right-hand man as forwards coach from 2001-2007.

He took Perpignan to the French league title in 2009 and spent five years in charge of Italy between 2011 and 2016 before switching to Bordeaux.

Brunel will officially begin the task of rebuilding the national side next week, Laporte said, after his final match as Bordeaux coach against Stade Francais on Saturday.