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JACQUES BRUNEL

Today’s NY Times reported that newly released archives from Great Britain indicated that in 1956 a French politician suggested the two nations unite into one country. Mon Dieu! The creation of FRANGLAND, and with it the FRANGLAND XV.

As 2018 begins, there exists a disparate anticipation of how England and France will fare in the upcoming year, commencing with the NatWest Six Nations Championship that starts in February.

France are in shambles, sustaining a sub-standard, two-year 7-13-1 record in 2016 and 2017, terminating in an ignoble tie against Japan in Paris at the Stade de France. Remember, Les Bleues were crushed 62-13 by the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup of 2015.

It was time for a change at the top, and, for the first time in France’s illustrious rugby history, the current coach was terminated with time remaining on his contract. Adieu to Guy Novès and bienvenue to Jacques Brunel, who once served as Italy’s coach, and currently, is the head man at Top 14 French team Bordeaux-Beyles. His contract extends to the end of the Japan RWC in 2019.

After the successful staging of the 2007 RWC in France, “Le rugbyman” emerged as a new symbol of French masculinity. France built a remarkable rugby training complex at Marcoussis, twenty-miles south of Paris, which also houses the French Rugby Federation (FFR). Once, France planned to build a new stadium at Ris-Orangis, 21-miles from Paris, at an estimated cost of €580 million ($660MM). But these plans have been scrapped.

Brunel has a daunting challenge of restoring the panache that categorized decades of French rugby. And he must start the turnaround soon, since Pool C in the 2019 RWC in Japan includes England, Argentina, and France (plus Tonga and the USA).

France versus Ireland, February 3 at the Stade de France, Paris.