My first encounter with Guy Noves was in February 1979 in an icy snowy swept Paris.
I was a nineteen year old watching Wales play France, at Parc des princes, and the man wearing the number 11 shirt for France that day was a certain Mr Guy Noves of Toulouse.
So, there we were, almost thirty seven years later , at the launch of the 2016 RBS 6 nations in the plush surroundings of the Hurlingham club.
The new France coach is looking lean and elegant in his dark suit, and over coffee we discuss the upcoming RBS six nations championship.
Guy Noves is Mr Toulouse, he played 189 times for them, and then went on to coach them f0r twenty two years, winning 4 European cups, 10 French championships and 3 Yves Du Manoir trophies.
Taking over the France team at the age of sixty one he joked ;
“I know I am a Grandad I have no time to lose”
“We are trying to prepare a French squad which will in a large part be with us for four years”
“We’ve started a game plan and looked at the compatibility of the players, and tried to go for the most coherent choice possible”
It appears that Noves is looking for his players to play “heads up” rugby to scan and make decisions on the field, rather than the robotic structure we have seen in recent years.
Wesley Fofana is regarded as the one man France cannot do without
“Wesley is perhaps THE indispensable player of France, his qualities are such he is capable of using them at centre or on the wing, we will see what the better option is for him, depending on what problems we have “
It is evident that, despite injury problems, Francois Trinh Duc is an integral part of Noves’ plans.
“Francois is back playing for Montpellier after injury, he knows what we expect of him and he is part of our game plan and squad”
We talk about the youngest player in the France squad, uncapped twenty year old Camille Chat, from Racing 92,
“Camille will face the highest level but if we wait too long it might be too late we’ve had great feedback from his coaches”
The great French legend Jean Pierre Rives had this to say about Noves:
“Stade Toulousain is a true school of rugby, when you play there you are a “stadiste” for life”
Noves and his staff are going to succeed with France, I know that it will work, I want him to have fun and I think they are going to entertain us”
Sitting back in his chair Noves does not seem over excited at the prospect of his first 6 Nations tournament, maybe at his age he has seen it all, or maybe he realises the huge task he has in restoring France’ fortunes and reputation
Having spent time in his company, I feel sure that his French team will not lack effort or passion, also the players will know exactly where they stand, Noves will not suffer fools gladly that’s for sure.