France draft in new coach Galthie in major World Cup shake-up

Paris (AFP) –


Former captain Fabien Galthie has been drafted in to the coaching team of the French World Cup squad in a major shake-up ahead of the tournament, current coach Jacques Brunel said Tuesday.

Galthie was named last month to replace Brunel after the World Cup, but was brought in early to boost a demoralised squad ahead of the Japan tournament starting in September.

The fear that France would be dumped out of the World Cup after the group stages, along with pressure from federation president Bernard Laporte, forced Brunel to rethink his plans and opt to strengthen his coaching staff.

In a statement posted on the French Rugby Federation website, Brunel said the 50-year-old Galthie would bring his "vision" to the group and look after overall morale issues.

"He will be there to bring his vision," Brunel said. "He already has an idea of what he can bring to us after our discussions and videos that we have watched."

He said that Galthie was bringing with him fitness coach Thibault Giroud, who worked with him during his stint as Toulon coach.

The former French captain's arrival with Les Bleus, Brunel added, would not affect the roles of the other assistant coaches.

"Nothing has changed for other members of the coaching staff, they will carry on as before," said Brunel.

"He'll bring something to the collective spirit and will be one of the coaches along with the others.

"He won't have a dominant role," said Brunel.

The 65-year-old Brunel has experienced a difficult tenure since replacing the sacked Guy Noves in 2017, winning only five games in 16 fixtures.

France have been drawn with England, Argentina, the United States and Tonga in a tough-looking Pool C at the World Cup from September 20 to November 2.

- Weakened -

Brunel said he had followed Galthie's coaching career at Stade Francais (2004-2008), Montpellier (2010-2014) and Toulon (2017-2018).

Galthie led Stade Francais to the Top 14 title in 2007 and to the Top 14 and European Cup finals in 2005. He took Montpellier to a Top 14 final in 2011. Prior to that Galthie, as a player, won 64 French caps between 1991 and 2003 when Brunel was working as an assistant coach for the national team.

"Over the years we have been close and that has not changed," said Brunel, whose tenure was weakened after a poor Six Nations tournament in which France finished fourth.

Assistant coaches already in place include Sebastien Bruno (forwards), Julien Bonnaire (line-out) and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (backs).

However, Galthie, named last month as post-World Cup coach, has already put in place some of his backroom staff including Laurent Labit as backs coach while talks are ongoing to tempt Shaun Edwards to France as defensive coach. Edwards has rejected an offer of a new contract with Wales after the World Cup.

Ahead of the World Cup, France have training camps at the French headquarters in Marcoussis from end June to mid-July and on the southern French coast and in Spain from mid-July to mid-August.

Prior to the trip to Japan, two friendly matches against Scotland and another against Italy have been scheduled.