Toulon reveal their new coach
NEWS: Troubled Top 14 side Toulon on Thursday appointed Franck Azema as coach, replacing Patrice Collazo.
Toulon parted with Collazo “by mutual agreement” on Tuesday after a thrashing at La Rochelle last weekend left them 13th in the 14-team league.
Azema, who is 50, led Clermont to the Top 14 title in 2017 — beating Toulon in the final — but had been out of work after opting out of the last two years of his contract in the summer.
“I am very proud to join the Rugby Club Toulonnais, an iconic club in French and European rugby,” Azema said in a club statement.
“The opportunity to direct the sporting future of RCT is a great challenge. I am eager to get back on the field and to share my experience with the players and the staff, with the objective of obtaining positive results for the club very quickly.”
Azema was linked with Montpellier in the summer but former France and Toulon coach Philippe Saint-Andre took the job. Azema has been working for French TV this season.
Azema was presented to the Toulon squad at the beginning of Thursday afternoon and started work at once.
However, James Coughlan, the defence coach, will be in charge of the preparation for the Top-14 visit of fellow strugglers Biarritz on Saturday.
“I am very happy to welcome Franck Azema, a manager of great quality, with significant experience in French rugby,” said Toulon president Bernard Lemaitre in the club press release.
“He has demonstrated his skills and obtained convincing results during his years at AS Clermont-Auvergne and USA Perpignan. Our common ambition will be to quickly find the way to victory and success, in the Top 14 as well as in the European Cup.”
Collazo guided Toulon to the European Challenge Cup final in 2020 but was unable to deliver a fifth French title in his three years in charge — failing to even reach the end of season play-offs.
The three-time European champions’ last appearance in the domestic final was in 2017.