Former All Blacks assistant coach Joe Schmidt is said to be the top target of the Montpellier club.
Former All Blacks coaches Joe Schmidt and Ian Foster have both been linked with potential vacancies at Montpellier in France in the wake of an overhaul of management at the Top 14 club.
After a management mashup that included former England hooker Richard Cockerill being sacked as head coach, along with his assistant Jean-Baptiste Élissalde, when the club slumped to a sixth defeat in its first seven matches on Sunday, there has been plenty of conjecture around the path ahead.
The pair have been replaced by disgraced former France coach Bernard Laporte as director of rugby and Patrice Collazo, who had just been sacked by Brive, as top coach.
However, French media are reporting this as a short-term fix for Montpellier, with Collazo notably only given an 18-month contract, with survival in the Top 14 given the highest priority.
And it’s in the club’s long-term vision that Schmidt, and possibly Foster, come into the reckoning with French media outlet Midi Libre reporting that both are on the short-list as potential head coaches of the future.
Notably, according to Midi Libre, Schmidt, who came in as Foster’s assistant with the All Blacks, is considered Montpellier’s top priority, and viewed as the club’s preferred candidate to lead them in a new era.
But the now former All Blacks head coach who masterminded a rollercoaster four years in the New Zealand job, but came within a whisker of winning the World Cup in France, is also considered a potential candidate for the top job should Schmidt not be available.
Foster said after the 12-11 World Cup final defeat to South Africa in Paris he had deliberately refused to enter into employment negotiations before the global tournament but very much wanted to continue in his coaching career.
“I had a couple of options before the World Cup that I basically said, if you want to talk to me, you have to wait till after the World Cup,” he said then, also noting he would not rule out an international role.
Schmidt, who refused all media requests during the World Cup, has a reputation as a coaching savant, has considerable French experience and speaks the language fluently. He coached Clermont between 2007-10 before heading to Leinster, where he won back-to-back Champions Cup titles and a PRO12 trophy before stepping into the job as Ireland boss.
There are also a couple of notable vacancies at the international level, with Australia and Fiji both searching for new head coaches.