PREVIEW: Lyon first up as Teague takes Bordeaux reins
TOP 14 ROUND 15: Having bid adieu to Jacques Brunel, Bordeaux-Begles promptly turned a new page by replacing the new France coach with little-known Englishman Rory Teague, who takes on Lyon on Saturday in his first ever match as head coach not just in the Top 14, but in any professional league.
Brunel replaced sacked Guy Noves as coach of France just weeks ahead of the Six Nations, and Teague, backs coach at Bordeaux under Brunel, was on Thursday made top dog at the southwestern club.
Teague is the cousin of gnarly former England flanker Mike Teague and plied his trade in ProD2 teams Limoges, Tarbes, Aurillac and Grenoble between 2007-11.
In England, Teague made his name as backs coach of the under-20 England team before becoming skills coach of the full international XV team under Eddie Jones.
He joined Bordeaux in summer 2017, at the time saying that he did not want to change the club's attacking philosophy.
"The history of the club: good in attack and wanting to play.
"It is a club with a good frame of mind, the right attitude to work. Above all, it is a club with a lot of potential."
Teague will be backed up by four assistants: ex-Ireland international Jeremy Davidson takes charge of the forwards and former England flanker Joe Worsley the defence, while France international prop Jean-Baptiste Poux will look after the scrum and Ludovic Loustau physical fitness.
Bordeaux's France fullback Nans Ducuing said life without Brunel was not an overriding concern for the team.
"The backroom staff in place knows exactly what our game plan is. So we'll adapt, we'll do as we can, but honestly I'm not worried about the bigger picture carrying on as is," Ducuing said.
Bordeaux currently sit eighth in the Top 14 on 33 points, with seven wins from 14 played, having last week suffered a disappointing 22-12 defeat by Stade Francais.
Seventh-placed Lyon will travel to Bordeaux in the knowledge that their assistant coach Sebastian Bruno has joined Brunel's France set-up as scrum coach for the Six Nations.
Bruno, along with fellow former France players Julien Bonnaire and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, was unveiled Wednesday as Brunel's key backroom staff members.
French federation head Bernard Laporte, under whom the trio all played when he was head coach and Brunel his assistant (2000-7), had sought to introduce some of the cream of French coaches from the Top 14.
But the refusal of leading names such as Patrice Collazo, Franck Azema, Fabien Galthie and Pierre Mignoni to quit their jobs meant the two men now running the national team had to cast their net a little further.
Former hooker Bruno, assistant to Mignoni at Lyon since 2015, remains a Lyon coach on secondment, while Bonnaire and Elissalde were without a club, the former only having hung up his boots last year and the latter having been brought in to coach the France under-18 team.
In a battle of top versus bottom, league leaders La Rochelle travel to Oyonnax, who have garnered just 12 points in a season which has featured only one victory.
La Rochelle saw in the New Year with a seven-try mauling of second-bottom Agen, and centre Pierre Aguillon was left confident after not conceding a try.
"It's been several matches that we've leaked tries," Aguillon said. "The Agen shutout will allow us to trust our defence for the upcoming matches. It's important and it also shows the character of the team.
"We won't get carried away with the win," he said of the Agen battering. "There are still a lot of matches to come."
Defending champions Clermont, currently in 10th spot, were last week beaten 31-27 by Castres, up to third in the standings.
There was more bad news for Franck Azema's injury-hit team ahead of a trip to fourth-placed Racing 92 on Sunday with centre Aurelien Rougerie (knee) and England winger David Strettle (ankle) each ruled out for a month.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Saturday, January 6
Bordeaux-Begles v Lyon (13.45)
Brive v Toulon (15.45)
Agen v Castres (17.45)
Oyonnax v La Rochelle (17.45)
Montpellier v Stade Francais (19.45)
Sunday, January 7
Pau v Toulouse (15.50)
Racing 92 v Clermont (20.00)