Today we kick off a series looking at the new head coaches and directors of rugby in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup. Our first subject is Racing 92 director of rugby Laurent Travers.
Where has he come from?
Travers has been on the coaching staff at Racing since 2013 and won promotion into the top job when his co-head coach, Laurent Labit, with whom he had worked for 14 years, decided to leave Paris La Défense Arena to join the French national team coaching set-up after the 2019 World Cup.
What is his previous coaching experience?
The 50-year-old’s first coaching job – after an impressive playing career at hooker that included a European Cup winners’ medal with Brive in 1997 – was with ASM Clermont Auvergne, where he was appointed assistant coach in 2001. The following season he was promoted into the top job but left when Clermont finished fifth in the then TOP 16.
In 2005 he was named forwards coach of US Montauban and then joined forces with backs specialist Labit to become head coaches of the club, guiding Montauban to the Pro D2 title in 2006 and into the European Cup for the first time in the club’s history in 2008/09.
The pair were headhunted by Castres Olympique in 2009 and they made steady progress in joint charge at Stade Pierre Fabre until steering them to the French title in 2013.
They then moved to Racing and in 2016 they not only celebrated another French title, but also the Parisians’ first European Cup final appearance. The pair repeated the European feat last year but again failed to lift the trophy.
Who will be in his coaching team?
With Labit leaving and Travers being promoted, there has been shuffling of the Racing coaching team. Former Australia scrum coach Patricio Noriega has been appointed forwards coach, while Irishman Mike Prendergast will continue in charge of the backs, having moved to Racing from Stade Français Paris earlier this year.
What does he think of his appointment?
Travers told Rugbyrama.fr: “A new challenge presents itself next season for him (Laurent Labit) as much as for me, but what is certain is that each of us will want the other to succeed.”