Montpellier sacked former England assistant coach after just few games

Seven games into the Top 14 season, Montpellier fired former England assistant Richard Cockerill. The forwards coach Eddie Jones hired decided not to play at the Test level under Steve Borthwick, announcing last spring that he would retire at the end of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and take up a position as sports manager at the home of the 2022 French league winners.

But after Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad brought in Bernard Laporte over the weekend, one of his first actions was to remove Cockerill from his position, and as a result, his time in the south of France has abruptly ended.

The upheaval came following Saturday’s loss at fellow strugglers Perpignan, which resulted in Montpellier falling to the bottom of the Top 14 table after just one win in seven matches this term. The Cockerill era had started on

August 20 with a victory at home against the reigning European champions La Rochelle, but Altrad had to step in after six losses in a row.

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Upon his arrival in Montpellier late on Sunday morning, Laporte promptly initiated a coaching staff restructuring, which included the dismissal of Cockerill and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.The former head coach of France told Midi Olympique that although he had committed to help the team a few weeks prior, he hadn’t planned on starting sooner than he had thought.

“I really like Mohed, we are in regular contact,” he began. “He asked me several times and I felt it was the right time. We agreed last week but the defeat against USAP precipitated everything. I couldn’t leave this club in difficulty. Last in the Top 14, is out of place.

“With Mohed, we decided to change everything. My mission will be to support him, to support the players, but first of all, to put together a new staff. That’s what I did this weekend. I won’t be on the pitch, I’m not going to coach. I’m not old enough for that anymore, especially since it’s been more than eight years since I’ve done it.

“A few days ago, a mutual friend put me in touch with Patrice Collazo. We hit it off. He will be the new general manager of the MHR, replacing Richard Cockerill. After that, I looked at the available technicians who were likely “Christian Labit also gave me his agreement this Sunday morning, he will come to take care of the forwards with Antoine Battut – the club had obtained his signature a few days ago. I discovered that the four of them knew and liked each other. They want to work together and with me. Richard Cockerill and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde will not continue with us. They are no longer there. On the other hand, Jeremy Valls will continue to take care of the kicking game and Benson Stanley of the defense. That is why I spoke with Vincent Etcheto in-depth this morning. He is on his way to Montpellier with Patrice.

The RFU announced in February of last year that Cockerill, who had joined for the 2021/22 season after leaving Edinburgh, would be leaving at the end of that campaign. This was after England’s defeat to Scotland in the opening round of the Six Nations.

In a statement at the time, the coach stated, “My family and I always had aspirations to return having coached and played in France previously.” This was a long-ago opportunity that was too difficult to pass up.

“Not being able to collaborate with Steve and the entire team after the Six Nations is unfortunate. Although it wasn’t meant to be, I had hoped to be able to stay for the Rugby World Cup.

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