Sackings are part of Berbizier’s plan for Racing

The sacking of Racing-Metro’s popular backs coach Simon Mannix last Friday was part of an overall plan to take the Top 14 club forward, director of rugby Pierre Berbizier explained Tuesday.

The 40-year-old Mannix, capped once by the All Blacks, had been at the club since its Second Division days in 2007 and only recently extended his contract.

However he was sacked following a 28-9 win over Biarritz and replaced with the French national side’s former kicking coach, Argentinian Gonzalo Quesada.

Berbizier insisted Tuesday that too much was being made of his decision.

“It is an evolution, just like in any operation,” said the combative Berbizier, a former France and Italy national coach.

“There have been developments at the administrative level, at the structural level with the training centre and the stadium that is being built and also in terms of the human make-up of the coaching staff.

“You (the press) talk about this (Mannix’s sacking) because it is the most visible part of the iceberg. That is part and parcel of the evolutionary process, I will not say naturally, but which happens.”

Berbizier said 37-year-old Quesada — capped 38 times between 1996 and 2003 — would add a new dimension to the coaching staff.

“We are taking a different route, with a new vision, and a different personality,” said Berbizier.

“The revised coaching staff will function differently and we believe that the staff has to do so.”

Racing-Metro captain Lionel Nallet said he was surprised by the news, which he discovered in a newspaper, but ultimately welcomed Berbizier’s decision.

“I had a message afterwards from Simon who I called back and he thanked me and the other players he called for the good times we spent together,” said Nallet.

“It’s always difficult to lose someone during the season. He was hugely liked by the players but our results have been up and down (they are fifth in the table with five losses in 11 matches).

“We now have Gonzalo and for me, there’s no problem. I know him well from the French coaching staff, and is someone I like a lot,” added Nallet, who was part of the France side that reached last month’s World Cup final.

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