Bernard Laporte admits Joe Schmidt was his top target after French clubs vote against foreign coach
FFR president Bernard Laporte has revealed that Joe Schmidt was the man he wanted to take over from Jacques Brunel after the Rugby World Cup.
France's next rugby coach will not come from abroad after amateur clubs voted against the idea in a referendum initiated by Laporte, the FFR said on Friday.
The clubs voted 59 per cent against a foreign coach replacing Jacques Brunel, whose contract expires at the end of this year's World Cup.
France, who have never been trained by a foreign coach and will host the 2023 World Cup, have slipped down to eighth in the World Rugby rankings and face an uphill task to advance from their 2019 World Cup Pool, which features England and Argentina.
Since Marc Lievremont took Les Bleus to the 2011 World Cup final, France have failed to live up to their reputation, finishing only once in the top three of the Six Nations.
"I will respect this choice," Laporte said in a statement.
Speaking in an interview on RMC, Laporte revealed that current Irish boss Schmidt was his primary target.
"My number one choice was not Warren Gatland, it was was Joe Schmidt because he speaks French like you and I. He coached Clermont, I saw the five (foreign coaches) but I did not engage with any of them.
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"We have to go as fast as possible, I also have French coaches on the phone."
Schmidt, like Brunel, is finishing up with Ireland after the World Cup and has said he will return to New Zealand.
Andy Farrell will succeed Schmidt as Ireland's head coach.