Laporte calls for French reform, not the axe
REACTION: Dramatic reform in the French game, rather than firing the coach, is the solution to the onfield problems of Les Bleus.
That is he view of French Federation (FFR) President Bernard Laporte, who expressed his support for under-fire coach Guy Novès.
Laporte made it clear Novès will stay on as coach of the French national team, despite being whitewashed 3-0 by South Africa this month.
The Springboks beat Les Bleus by more than 20 points in all three Tests - 37-14 in Pretoria, 37-15 in Durban and 35-12 in Johannesburg.
Novès admitted his team has "lots of ground to make up" on the 'big' teams of the game.
He felt they learnt some 'valuable' lessons after being whitewashed by the Springboks.
Novès, speaking after his team's loss on the third and final Test at Ellis Park at the weekend, said with the necessary adjustments they would be able to topple the Boks in the future.
He certainly has the backing of Laporte, despite calls for his axing - most notably from Toulon's eccentric owner Mourad Boudjellal, who said that, in the "best interest of French rugby", he was ready to release coach Fabien Galthié to the national team.
Laporte laughed off the suggestion.
"If the solution was to replace Novès with Galthie, we would do that," Laporte said, adding: "But this is not the solution. I know very well this position which the coach finds himself in and this situation is not only the fault of Guy Novès."
He said Novès has his full support.
"Guy Novès has my full support, but I cannot accept that we are now ranked No.8 on the world rankings."
The French boss made it clear that their objective is clear, to win three of their four Tests in November.
France host New Zealand on November 11, South Africa (November 18) and Japan (November 25) - while a second clash in November with the All Blacks is being arranged but not yet confirmed.
"The players, Guy [Novés] and I, are on the same page," Laporte said.
Novés, in his post-match media briefing at the weekend, made mention of an agreement between the French Federation and the clubs, which will give the players a longer off-season break and ensure they are better prepared in the future.
This follows three intense days of meetings between the clubs and the French Federation in Bourges.
Novès believes there are "better days" are ahead with the longer off-season break and more time available for the national team coach to prepare for Tests.
Novès insisted there had been progress made on the three-week trip to South Africa.
"There was clear progress between the first two matches and in the third," the coach said, adding: "We were only seven [points] down at half-time [at Ellis Park], but then they scored an easy try and it ended our resistance.
"You learn that at this level, the slightest mistake is expensive. What is certain is that at half-time, we were still in the game. We are at the end of our season, and there was a difference in the physical condition and freshness.
"We will leave with the suitcases full of aspects we need to work on, but it is obvious the players need a holiday.
"We will look at the positive elements, and I don't think the gap is too big.
"I think that in November, with the work we did here in South Africa, that we will progress a little bit."
Laporte said it was important for the Federation to take back control of the game in France.
"I know what I'm talking about without being pretentious," Laporte said.
"That's why I wanted the Federation to take back control, especially on the provision of players.
"We must put our international [players] in the best position to win Tests."
Sources: leparisien.fr & Reuters