PARIS – The next France coach will be named before the team heads to the World Cup in September, French rugby federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte said in an interview published on Wednesday.
The decision to replace current coach Jacques Brunel immediately after the tournament in Japan represents a change of mind by Laporte. He said in October that the FFR planned to keep Brunel until the end of his contract in June 2020.
"We finally agreed that we had to switch quickly looking forward to the 2023 World Cup in France," Laporte, who was France coach from 1999 to 2007, told regional newspaper Progres.
Laporte did not name any possible replacements for the 65-year-old Brunel, who has been in charge since 2017, but said he had "gone to meet the five best coaches in the world to offer them the job".
Laporte did not rule out appointing a foreign coach for the first time.
"So often before, it was said that it was not possible, but today we're open to it," he said. "My only goal is to have the best to rebuild a France team that wins."
Asked about stories that former France scrum-half Fabien Galthie or ex-Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara would join France's coaching staff before the World Cup, Laporte said he was not "a president-selector" and did not want to encroach on Brunel's job.
"It's up to him to make the choice, to know who he wants to work with, or not, and, therefore, to take responsibility."
Laporte said he was "not satisfied with the results obtained" by France, who have just finished fourth in the Six Nations and are ranked eighth in the world.
At the World Cup, France are in a daunting group with England, Argentina, Tonga and the USA. But, said Laporte, if Les Bleus can "ensure they finish in the top two in the pool then everything is possible, with a little luck".AFP