Monday 9 December 2019

Ford backs Cockerill to reignite Toulon

Richard Cockerill Photo: PA Wire
Richard Cockerill Photo: PA Wire

Gavin Mairs

Toulon director of rugby Mike Ford believes the appointment of former Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill will transform his pack into "one of the best in Europe again" ahead of the French Top 14 club's bid to salvage their Champions Cup campaign.

Cockerill, who was appointed as a short-term rugby consultant at Toulon just four days after he was sacked by Leicester, spoke yesterday for the first time about his move to France.

The 46-year-old, who spent nearly eight years in charge at Leicester, said: "I left Leicester Monday, Mike called me the day after. I know Mike because I trained his son (England out-half George) at Leicester academy, and he asked me to come here and train. Why not? It's a great team, a great experience."

Ford, who replaced Diego Dominguez as director of rugby at Toulon in October, needs the three-time European champions to win their remaining two Champions Cup matches - against Sale Sharks on Sunday and away to Saracens on January 21 - to retain any hope of progressing to the knockout stages.

Toulon have slipped to fifth place in the Top 14, 10 points behind leaders Clermont Auvergne.

"I haven't particularly asked for (an English coach). We've been looking for another coach for three or four weeks, Cockers became available and he's a winner," said Ford, who was sacked as Bath boss at the end of last season.

"He's been in loads of finals and semi-finals, bringing him into the organisation is only going to make us better and help us learn to win again."

Ford revealed that Toulon's forwards coach Marc Dal Maso had fully supported the decision to sign Cockerill, adding: "I spoke to Marc before I spoke to Cockers. Marc was all for Cockers to come on board.

He's been dealing with 28 forwards every session, he can't put into them the detail they need. Cockers is going to make our forward pack one of the best in Europe again.

"We're not where we want to be but, with the timing of Cockers' start, it's hugely important for us to get back on track. We had a hugely honest meeting on Monday and we're going to get better."

Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs have signed England flanker Matt Kvesic (24) from Gloucester on a three-year deal.

Kvesic has won three Test caps - two against Argentina in 2013 and one as a replacement when England beat Wales at Twickenham last May. He will leave Gloucester after four years at Kingsholm.

"We see him as a very good player," Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said. "I worked with him on the (England) tour to Argentina, where he was outstanding in the way he prepared himself, the way he carried himself and the way he played. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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