Biarritz suspend coaches after slump in form
BIARRITZ, France (AFP) –
Top 14 giants Biarritz on Tuesday sought to arrest an alarming loss in form by suspending coaches Serge Milhas and Jack Isaac from their posts till January 6.
The duo have been replaced in the interim by two emblematic figures at the club, manager Laurent Rodriguez – who was joint coach when Biarritz won the 2002 French title – and youth academy director Mathieu Rourre.
Their first task will be to get the team prepared for a crucial European Cup pool match at home to Connacht on Saturday – the French side are third in the pool nine points adrift of leaders Harlequins with three matches remaining.
The final straw for the Biarritz board came with the side’s 22-14 defeat by Connacht – who are the weakest of the four Irish provinces – last Friday.
“It became apparent that something had to be done,” said Biarritz president and French playing legend Serge Blanco.
“Our season is not over, but we need to regenerate, we need to qualify (for the European Cup quarter-finals), we are competitors, it is imperative we begin to move in the right direction.”
Milhas, who cut his coaching teeth with La Rochelle and guided them to the Top 14 along with David Darricarrère, has been scrum coach since the 2011/12 season but his name has been linked recently with that of Mathias Roland to replace Castres coaching duo Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit next season.
Australian Isaac, who played in the centres for the club, first coached the youth side before becoming coach of the backs in November 2007 – both he and Milhas had been suported by Blanco last season even though they flirted with relegation for a long part of the campaign.
Biarritz began the Top 14 season brightly, winning their first four matches before going on a six game losing streak and despite winning their last two to lie seventh in the standings it was not enough to save the duo.