It may be Valentine’s Day, but there will be no love lost when former France coach Guy Novès goes head-to-head with the French Rugby Federation (FFR) on 14 February.

Sacked as coach of Les Bleus in December 2017, with two years left on his contract, Novès will launch a claim for almost €3 million from his former employer at an industrial tribunal in Toulouse, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

The sum is made up of salary due over the remaining term, plus damages and interest, including a sum for harming his reputation. He will also state that he was dismissed without any prior warning.  

The FFR’s lawyer, Joseph Aguera, insists the federation is unconcerned by the case. The FFR will claim that the 65 year old committed serious errors in dealing with the players and had too distant a relationship with the Top 14 clubs. It will also rely on several legal aspects of its contract with Novès.

The FFR will not cite the poor results of the team under Novès, particularly as the subsequent performances under his successor, Jacques Brunel remain poor. Nor will it rely on the outcome of an audit conducted after the coach had left his post.

Instead, the focus will be on the evidence of players, who claimed in the media that there was a bad atmosphere in the squad. 

However, the FFR case has not been helped by the repeated references by its president, Bernard Laporte, of the audit, squad atmosphere and the team’s performances under Novès, who remains France’s most successful club coach from his time as head coach at Stade Toulousain, whom he led to nine French titles and four Heineken Cup victories. 

Written By Colin Renton