New France coach Guy Noves has vowed to bring back the excitement following the national team’s World Cup debacle under predecessor Philippe Saint-Andre.
France were often accused of being dull during Saint-Andre’s tepid and fruitless four years in charge of Les Bleus, which culminated in a World Cup humiliation at the hands of eventual champions New Zealand.
Four years on from making the mighty All Blacks tremble on home turf in a 8-7 World Cup final defeat in Auckland, France were put to the sword in spectacular fashion in this year’s quarter-finals in Cardiff, suffering a chastening 62-13 defeat.
France were mostly uninspired as well as unsuccessful under Saint-Andre but Noves says he’s going to bring back the flair-filled rugby for which the French have always been famed.
“My first mission is to try to implement a rugby for the future, one which brings fans to the stadium: spectacular rugby,” said the veteran former Toulouse coach.
“I want us to try to use the whole pitch, all its width, and hence go towards a rugby based on movement which is inspired by that which made Argentine rugby successful, which, for me, is a true example.
“There’s no point talking about New Zealand because they’re too far ahead.”
Under Saint-Andre’s predecessor, Marc Lievremont, France were often criticised but they won the Grand Slam in 2010, never finished lower than third in the Six Nations and reached the 2011 World Cup final.
Under Saint-Andre, France never finished above fourth in the Six Nations, never beat New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland or Wales, and ended on their Cardiff mauling in which they conceded their most points ever in a match against the All Blacks.
With such a miserable recent record — Saint-Andre’s France won just 46.67 percent of their matches, much less than the already highly-criticised 60 percent record of Lievremont’s team — and such a lack of creativity in their play, Noves acknowledges it will take time to turn this outfit into an exciting team.
“Right now there’s no point answering,” said the 61-year-old when asked if this team could produce the spectacular style he envisages.
“But I have no choice, that’s where we have to arrive. We have to work profoundly to become better armed in the future.”
Noves coached Toulouse, his hometown club where he also donned the black shirt as a player, from 1993 to 2015, guiding them to their most successful period since the 1920s.
They won the French title nine times and the European Cup a record four times.
And Noves says he will bring the same management style that worked so successfully at club level to the international game.
“The human way I work with my players and staff, that will be the motor of life, plain and simple,” he said.
“To get the best out of players and most of all to allow them to express themselves as best they can, I think you have to give them a lot.”