New France rugby coach promises attack

New France rugby coach Guy Noves has promised to restore some lost flamboyance to Les Bleus after a disappointing World Cup campaign.

Noves, who led Toulouse to four European and 10 French titles, is taking over from Philippe Saint-Andre, under whom France exited the World Cup with a record 62-13 defeat to New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

“I’m not Zorro, I don’t come with a magic wand,” Noves warned on Friday in his first news conference as France coach.

“We will give our best, I want to give the kids the desire to pick up a ball and play rugby after watching a France game.”

Under Saint-Andre, France sacrificed their traditional flair game for a more physical approach and lost 23 of 45 tests.

Despite that disappointing record, however, Noves believes there are positives to take from the Saint-Andre era.

“France were good at the breakdown, apart from the last game against New Zealand maybe, and were strong in defence,” he said.

French fans, however, have been used to seeing running rugby over the years and that is something Noves, who groomed Toulouse into an entertaining, attacking side, is expected to implement.

“The players must enjoy themselves but they also have to give pleasure to the fans,” he said.

“I liked the defence (under Saint-Andre) but we have a different education (on offence) and we’re going to work on that,” added the 61-year-old, who said he did not know whether current captain Thierry Dusautoir would lead the team into the Six Nations.

“We haven’t met with him yet,” he said.

Noves will need to make the most of limited preparation time ahead of the Six Nations as the powerful French League is reluctant to free up the players in advance of international tests, but he is not complaining.

“I knew the conditions (when I signed),” said Noves.

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