French rugby is facing a significant challenge following the departure of Raphael Ibanez as team manager. Ibanez, who had been working alongside Fabien Galthie after the 2019 Rugby World Cup disappointment, played a crucial role in revitalizing French rugby. However, their relationship has reportedly broken down over the last few months, with disagreements arising before and during the World Cup that have not been repaired since the tournament ended.
The tension between Ibanez and Galthie has been exacerbated by the actions of former Les Bleus player Richard Dourthe, who publicly criticized the France head coach. Dourthe, who is also Ibanez’s brother-in-law, accused Galthie of avoiding important issues and took issue with his coaching methods. The breakdown of their relationship has led to Ibanez likely taking on a role within the French Rugby Federation that will not be attached to the men’s side, with a role in the youth and/or women’s sections being suggested.
Galthie will have a relatively young team to work with following the departure of several other coaches from the set-up. Moreover, he will be without his captain Antoine Dupont for the 2024 Six Nations as he focuses on developing his sevens skills ahead of the Paris Olympics. Despite these challenges, Galthie remains optimistic about his future with France and is determined to help rebuild French rugby into a competitive force once again.