Guy Novès confirmed as new France head coach

Toulouse legend will succeed Philippe Saint-André at the start of November after another underwhelming era for Les Bleus

By Gareth Llewellyn

Guy Novès has been confirmed as France’s new head coach after the Rugby World Cup later this year.

The 61-year-old, former Toulouse and France wing, was a contender to replace Bernard Laporte in 2007 and turned down the same job four years later to remain at Toulouse, but was chosen from an eight-strong shortlist reportedly including Sir Clive Woodward, who led England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

To be at the head of the France XV and to represent one’s country is both a great honour and a heavy responsibility.

Guy Novès

The legendary Toulouse head coach, who has guided his club to 10 national titles and a record four European titles since taking charge of the club in 1993, will take up his new post the day after the Rugby World Cup final, which takes place at Twickenham on Saturday 31 October.

The straight-talking Toulousain native has often been a strong critic of the national team’s performances, but insists he is a strong supporter of Les Bleus and wishes them well before he takes the reins later this year.

“To be at the head of the France XV and to represent one’s country is both a great honour and a heavy responsibility,” Novès said in a statement released by the French Rugby Federation (FFR).

“I am the leading supporter of the France national side and I wish with all my heart that they have a great World Cup.”

Philippe Saint-André, the incumbent head coach, has overseen another underwhelming era for Les Bleus, often devoid of the once-famed French flair, but ultimately failing to achieve meaningful success, with their last RBS 6 Nations title coming in 2010.

With Guy Noves, the FFR and the France team can count on the passion, but also the competence of the most beautiful record in French rugby.

Pierre Camou

That victory came in the much-maligned Marc Lievremont era, but at least delivered a Six Nations title before the unexpected progress to the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, where France lost 8-7 to hosts New Zealand.

Sixty-six coaches applied for the job of France head coach, with former France captains Raphaël Ibañez and Fabien Galthié among those to make the eight-man shortlist.

While both are young, highly-rated coaches, the move by the FFR to appoint Novès by secret ballot after two-hour interviews with each shortlisted candidate, suggests they are looking at short-term gains.

FFR president Pierre Camou, president of the federation, is delighted to have finally secured the coach who, for so long, been a France head coach in waiting.

“With Guy Noves, the FFR and the France team can count on the passion, but also the competence of the most beautiful record in French rugby,” Camous said.

“[He] will remain silent so as to allow the French squad to work in the calmest atmosphere before and during the main objective for this year the World Cup.”

Despite his advanced years, few show as much passion or deliver results anywhere near as well as Novès, who could win and 11th French title this summer.

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