Jacques Brunel (rugby union)

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Jacques Brunel
Jacques Brunel.jpg
Brunel with Italy in 2016
Date of birth (1954-01-14) 14 January 1954 (age 64)
Place of birth Courrensan, France
Rugby union career
Position(s) Head Coach
Current team France
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Teams coached
Years Team
France (Asst.)
Bordeaux Bègles
Correct as of 28 August 2015

Jacques Brunel (born 14 January 1954) is a French rugby union coach and former player. He is currently coaching the French national team, having previously been assistant coach for his nation and had led the Italian national team between 2011 and 2016.[1][2][3] Brunel, who has spent most of his career in France, formally coached his former team Auch, as well as Bordeaux Bègles, Colomiers, Pau and Perpignan.

Early life and playing career[edit]

Jacques Brunel, born in Courrensan, played club rugby for his local side at age grade level, and joined the academy side at Auch in 1967 at the age of 13. Haven moved through the age grade ranks, he graduated to the club's senior side in 1972 at the age of 18. He represented the club up until 1979, playing in the French Rugby Union Championship, where for most of the time, the club failed to progress past the Pool stages. During the 1979–80 French Rugby Union Championship, Brunel played for Grenoble, where they made it to the Last 32 stage, but was beaten by Montferrand 10–3. In 1980, again Brunel only made it as far as the Last 32, with Carcassonne, being beaten by Béziers 29–6. In 1981, he returned to Auch, where he remained with the club until his retirement at the end of 1987–88 season.

Coaching career[edit]

The beginning[edit]

He started coaching immediately after he retired from playing rugby in 1988, where he became the head coach of Auch until 1995. During his time as coach at the club, he led the team to 4 Top 16 rounds, 3 of which came in consecutive years. In 1995, he arrived at Colomiers, where in just his second season in charge, he led the team to the Quarter-finals of the 1996–97 French Rugby Union Championship. During the 1997–98 season, he led the team to the Semi-final of the French Rugby Union Championship, but narrowly lost to Perpignan 15–12. However, he did oversee Colomiers first ever trophy wear, when they won the 1997–98 European Challenge Cup.[4] In 1999, Brunel took the team one step forwards, leading them to the 1999 Heineken Cup Final, only to lose to Ulster 21–6.[5]

In 1999, he moved to Pau, where during the 1999–2000 French Rugby Union Championship, they made it to the semi-final, where they lost to Brunel former club Colomiers 24–22. Pau did however, make it to the 1999–2000 European Challenge Cup final, where they beat Castres Olympique 34–21. However, in Brunel stood down from his post after his second season, following Pau's poor form, and close call with relegation. In 2001, Jacques Brunel joined the technical staff of the French national team under the guidance of Bernard Laporte, training the forwards.[6] Under his guidance, France became known for their strong forwards work, which was a key element in their Six Nations Championship grand slam winning campaigns in 2002 and 2004. It was also a key part in France coming fourth in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, and saw them through to the Semi-finals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, which saw France beat New Zealand, 20–18, in the Quarter-finals.[7] However, France were dominated by a strong England pack during the Semi-finals, which saw the home side lose 14–9, before being dominated again by Argentina in the Bronze final, to lose 34–10. France's form during that world cup, saw all coached lose their job with the National team.

Perpignan (2007–2011)[edit]

After the world cup, he joined Perpignan as the head coach. In his debut season, he guided the team to fourth on the table, however they lost to Clermont 21–7 in the Semi-final. Though, during the 2008–09 Top 14 season, he led the team to victory, topping the table with 92 points, 20 wins from 26 matches, and a Semi-final win over Stade Français 25–21. They then beat Clermont 22–13.[8] Perpignan topped the table again in the 2009–10 Top 14 season, and then went on to beat Toulouse 21–13 in the Semi-final to set up a repeat of the 2009 final. However, on this occasion, Clermont won 19–6.[9] In 2011 he left his post with Perpignan to join the Italian national team as head coach.

Italy (2011–2016)[edit]

Jacques Brunel's first match in charge of Italy came during the 2012 Six Nations Championship, which saw Italy face France in Paris. France scored 4 tries to claim a 30–12 victory in Brunel's opening match. That was followed by a narrow 15–19 loss to England in Rome and a 42–10 loss to Ireland. They went into the final week with 4 losses, however a 13–6 win over Scotland saw Italy avoid the wooden spoon. Brunel's starting pack during that Scottish game, was the most internationally experienced ever to play an international match.[10] Brunel gained a further two victories during Italy's 2012 Summer Tour, where they beat Canada 25–16 and the United States 30–10. They did however lose to Argentina in the opening fixture of the tour, losing 37–22. During Italy's 2012 end of year tests, they came with in with in three points of beating Australia, losing 19–22 in Florence.

During the 2013 Six Nations Championship, Italy equaled their best positioning of fourth, with wins over France and Ireland, with the Irish win the first against the team in the Championship. Due to the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, Italy joined Scotland, Samoa and South Africa in a quadrangular tournament hosted by the Sprinboks.[11] Italy lost all three games, to finish last in the tournament. During the 2013 end of year tests, Italy claimed a sole win against Fiji, who was down to just 11 player at one point in the game, where Italy scored 17 points in that time, to earn a full-time score of 37–31.[12]

Italy finished last during the 2014 Six Nations Championship, the first time since Brunel became head coach. They lost all five matches, which was followed by a Summer Tour white-wash in June later that year. They lost in consecutive week-ends to Fiji 25–14, Samoa 15–0 and Japan 26–23 - which was Italy's first ever loss to the Japanese. Their 9-match losing streak came to an end in their opening fixture of the 2014 end of year tests, beating Samoa 24–13.

In 2015, Italy finished fifth during the 2015 Six Nations Championship, with their only win coming against Scotland, winning 22–19. Though, this win was Italy's first win over Scotland in Scotland, since 2007. Italy later went down to Scotland twice during the Rugby World Cup Warm-ups, with the second test being a record defeat, 48–7. During their 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign, Italy only came away with 2 wins to finish third in their pool. They opened with a 32–10 loss to France, before narrowly beating Canada 23–18 a week later. They were massively competitive in their game against Ireland, losing by just 7 points, 16–9. Their final game came against Romania, which was a must win game for both teams if they wanted to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Italy scored 4 tries to earn a bonus point, which led them to a 32–22 win.

Bordeaux Bègles[edit]

On 14 March 2016, following the completion of his contract with Italy, Brunel announced he would become the forwards coach for Bordeaux Bègles.[13] However by the end of the 2015–16 Top 14 season, Brunel had been promoted to head coach of Bordeaux, with Régis Sonnes stepping down as the lead coach.[14]

Brunel's first match in charge was a 15–9 victory over reigning champions Racing 92. Despite the good start to the season, Bordeaux only went on to win 10 games in 25 matches for the rest of the season, placing them in eleventh on the table. While in Europe, they failed to progress out of the pool stage, winning just half of their games.

Until his departure, Bordeaux put in inconsistent performances in the 2017–18 Top 14 season, winning just 7 games in the opening 13 rounds. Though this did include victories over giants Clermont, Montpellier and Toulon. Whilst in the European Challenge Cup, they had only managed to defeat Russian side Enisey-STM heading into the final two rounds. With the announcement of Brunel stepping up to lead the French national team, he coached his last game at Bordeaux on 30 December 2017, losing away to Stade Français 22–12.


On 27 December 2017, Brunel was named as the new coach of the French national team after Guy Novès was sacked due to a series of poor results.[15] Brunel's first match in charge, was a last minute loss to Ireland, losing 15–13, with a drop goal from Jonathan Sexton 3 minutes into over time during the 2018 Six Nations Championship. The following week, in what was the first ever match where the Auld Alliance Trophy was contested, Scotland claimed the victory winning 32–26. Brunel gained his first victory in round 3, defeating Italy at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, the first time France had taken a home game away from Paris during the Championship, to retain the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy. In round 4, France defeated England for the first time since 2015, running out 22–16 victors, and had it not been because of a defeat to Wales (14–13) in the final round, France could have finished second. However, their narrow loss meant they finished fourth, ahead of England and Italy in fifth and sixth.

Coaching statistics[edit]


International matches as head coach[edit]

Note: World Rankings Column shows the World Ranking Italy was placed at on the following Monday after each of their matches.

Record by country[edit]

Opponent Played Won Drew Lost Win ratio (%) For Against
 Argentina 3 0 0 3 0% 54 76
 Australia 2 0 0 2 0% 39 72
 Canada 2 2 0 0 100% 48 34
 England 5 0 0 5 0% 63 176
 Fiji 2 1 0 1 50% 51 56
 France 6 1 0 5 16.67% 76 162
 Ireland 6 1 0 5 16.67% 66 203
 Japan 1 0 0 1 0% 23 26
 New Zealand 1 0 0 1 0% 10 42
 Romania 1 1 0 0 100% 32 22
 Samoa 3 1 0 2 33.33% 34 67
 Scotland 8 2 0 6 25.00% 133 210
 South Africa 2 0 0 2 0% 16 66
 Tonga 1 1 0 0 100% 28 23
 United States 1 1 0 0 100% 30 10
 Wales 6 0 0 6 0% 80 224
TOTAL 50 11 0 39 22.00% 783 1469



International matches as head coach[edit]

Note: World Rankings Column shows the World Ranking France was placed at on the following Monday after each of their matches

Record by country[edit]

Opponent Played Won Drew Lost Win ratio (%) For Against
 Argentina 0 0 0 0 !—% 0 0
 England 1 1 0 0 100% 22 16
 Fiji 0 0 0 0 !—% 0 0
 Ireland 1 0 0 1 000.00% 13 15
 Italy 1 1 0 0 100% 34 17
 New Zealand 3 0 0 3 000.00% 38 127
 Scotland 1 0 0 1 000.00% 26 32
 South Africa 0 0 0 0 !—% 0 0
 Tonga 0 0 0 0 !—% 0 0
 United States 0 0 0 0 !—% 0 0
 Wales 1 0 0 1 000.00% 13 14
TOTAL 8 2 0 6 025.00% 146 221


Other honours[edit]




  • Top 14
    • Winner: 2009
    • Runner-up: 2010

France (as assistant coach)


  1. ^ Italie : C'est officiel pour Brunel", rugbyrama.com, 3 mai 2011. (in French)
  2. ^ Rugby, l'Italia torna a guida francese Jacques Brunel ct al posto di Mallett (in Italian)
  3. ^ Jacques Brunel to succeed Nick Mallett as Italy coach after World Cup (in English)
  4. ^ Colomiers 43-5 SU Agen
  5. ^ The Fourth Heineken Cup Final
  6. ^ Jacques Brunel, entraîneur adjoint
  7. ^ New Zealand 18-20 France
  8. ^ Perpignan strike to extend Clermont misery
  9. ^ Clermont Auvergne taste glory at last
  10. ^ Six Nations 2012: Italy v Scotland live
  11. ^ South Africa to host four-team tournament
  12. ^ Italy edge past scrappy Fiji
  13. ^ Jacques Brunel to become Bordeaux-Begles forward coach
  15. ^ "Jacques Brunel nommé sélectionneur de l'équipe de France à la place de Guy Novès". L'Équipe (in French). 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
South Africa Nick Mallett
Italy National Rugby Union Coach
Succeeded by
Ireland Conor O'Shea
Preceded by
France Guy Novès
French National Rugby Union Coach
2017 – Present
Succeeded by