Ford vows attacking philosophy

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 11:57
Large toulon flag in stand 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Toulon's new English coach Mike Ford said he will bring the excitement back to the three-time European champions as he prepares to take charge of the team for the first time on Saturday.

Toulon host lowly Grenoble in the French Top 14 in their first match since Argentine head coach Diego Dominguez was fired and replaced by the former Bath handler.

The move came after controversial Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal lost patience in what he viewed as Dominguez's dull and defensive style of play.

"[With] the President, we spoke before I came and we both have the same philosophy of how the game should be played," said Ford, who was originally brought in a month ago as backs coach.

"Simply, he [Boudjellal] employed me to get a game plan in place: that is attacking rugby.

"The situation, with me now being in charge of the first team, has obviously accelerated because we want to play some good rugby."

Boudjellal sacked Dominguez on Monday despite an important 15-5 European Champions Cup win at Sale last Friday.

The move stunned Toulon's players.

"We were a bit surprised at the beginning of the week because we weren't expecting it at all," admitted hooker Guilhem Guirado.

"But then we concentrated on the [training] pitch and this match against Grenoble because that's the most important thing. 

"We as players need to be good and most of all better than we were in our last match."

Toulon have had a poor start to the season.

Two weeks ago they lost at home in the Champions Cup for the first time, going down 31-23 to holders Saracens, leaving them with an uphill battle to qualify for the knock-out stages.

They are fourth in the Top 14 having lost three of their first eight matches, including a shock 21-25 defeat at home to Brive last month and a 28-23 reverse away to newly-promoted Bayonne - their only win of the season - in August.

More important for Boudjellal was the fare on offer from the team that has dominated French and European rugby over the last four years.

Only four teams in the French league have scored fewer tries so far this season while leaders Clermont have managed 25 to Toulon's 15. Ironically it is Brive (nine) and rock-bottom Bayonne (eight) who have been the least effective in crossing the whitewash.

"I wasn't happy with what I was seeing," said Boudjellal when announcing Dominguez's sacking on Monday.

"If I were a Toulon fan, I wouldn't feel like buying a ticket to come to the stadium."

Agence France-Presse