Former European Cup winner, and French national team captain, Raphael Ibanez has announced he will be stepping down from his post as director of rugby at Champions Cup side Bordeaux-Begles at the end of the season.
Ibanez took over at the club in 2012 and led them into the Champions Cup for the first time since the 1998/99 season in 2015. They won three games on their return, notably knocking out fellow TOP 14 club ASM Clermont Auvergne with a 37-28 at Stade Marcel Michelin in Round 6.
This season they did the double over Ulster Rugby and also won at Exeter Chiefs to finish second in Pool 5. They are currently eighth in the TOP 14 table following a 46-14 win over Grenoble.
“I confirm today that I will leave the UBB at the end of the season,” Ibanez wrote on the Bordeaux-Begles website.
“After the victory of this weekend, which allows the team to project themselves calmly towards a good end of the season, it is time for me to loo to the future.
“Following talks with the players, and Laurent Marti [president], it appears that changes have to be made. It is said that 'love lasts three years' – for me it will have lasted five years with this team!
“I am proud to have contributed to the development of this club, which I hope will grow in the years to come. I thank all the members of the club – players, coaches, members of the board, supporters and partners – for their support on a daily basis.
“I thank Laurent Marti for the trust he has placed in me and for his unfailing involvement and integrity.”
Ibanez won 98 caps for his country over an 11-year period and is a well-respected TV commentator on rugby in France. He won a European Cup winners medal with Wasps at Twickenham when they beat Leicester Tigers in 2007 and also played for Castres Olympique, Perpignan and Dax in the tournament.
He also played for current Champions Cup holders Saracens for two seasons during a European career that saw him make 59 appearances in the European Cup, Challenge Cup and Shield competitions.
The former Italian national coach and French assistant coach Jacques Brunel, who steered Colomiers to the Challenge Cup title in 1998, the European Cup final in 1999 and took Pau to victory in the 2000 Challenge Cup, is the current forwards coach at Bordeuax.
Also in the coaching team are Emile Ntamack (Backs Coach) and Joe Worsley (Defence Coach), both of who won the European Cup twice as players while playing at Toulouse and Wasps respectively.