BERLIN: Facing a four-team repechage for a place at the Rugby World Cup, Germany have hired Mike Ford, the former England and British Lions defence coach and Bath and Toulon head coach.
“I am delighted that I now have the opportunity to develop such an ambitious team as Germany, and possibly even lead them to a World Cup for the first time,” said Ford in German Rugby Federation (DRV) statement.
Germany were thrashed in a playoff for an automatic spot in Japan next year, by Samoa in July.
Germany have another chance to qualify for a maiden World Cup in the repechage competition in Marseille. They play Hong Kong on Nov 11, Canada on Nov 17 and Kenya on Nov 23.
“Of course it is a big challenge, but that is what makes this task so attractive,” Ford said. “I think that this national team has a lot of potential.”
Germany, whose front-line players and coaching staff all stood down at the end of 2017 in a dispute with the federation, finished fifth, and last, in the final, scandal-hit, European qualifying group for teams outside the Six Nations.
They were promoted to second, behind Russia, after Belgium, Spain and Romania suffered points deductions for fielding ineligible players.
The DRV stressed in the statement that German-born Swiss businessman Hans-Peter Wild, the owner of Stade Francais in the French Top 14, had given financial support to help “exploit this unique opportunity.” They said they had hired Ford “with immediate effect.”
The statement said that the 52-year-old Englishman, a former Great Britain rugby league international, was taking a “sabbatical” from his position as coach of the Dallas Griffins, who plan to plan to join the Major Rugby League next year.