Under fire Umaga stay on at Toulon : Boss

Under-fire Toulon coach Tana Umaga will remain coach of the newly-promoted French first division team, according to club president Mourad Boudjellal.


Former All Black Umaga has come under pressure after Toulon’s slow start to the new Top 14 season, which has seen the big-spending club win only two of their opening five games despite heavy investment in a raft of high-profile players including Jerry Collins, Joe van Niekerk and Sonny Bill Williams.


There have also been persistent rumours, notably in the French press, that former Wallaby and Stade Francais coach John Connolly could be taking over from Umaga.


“Tana Umaga and Jean-Jacques Crenca are the coaches of Toulon,” Boudjellal told L’Independant newspaper on Friday.


“We’re in seventh spot on 12 points, with a team that has a lot of injuries and a lot of problems,” said the president who made his fortunes from the comic book industry.


“It would not be a good time to upset the balance they’re attempting to install in the club by bringing into the middle of all that a third part.”


Boudjellal dismissed talk of Connolly coming to Toulon, saying: “It’s just another rumour, one of several big ones that have appeared over the last few months.


“There was Sebastien Chabal coming to Toulon, Jonny Wilkinson coming to Toulon, and now John Connolly coming to Toulon.


“I think we could rather talk about ‘John Connerie’ because that’s what that rumour is,” Boudjellal said, using the French word which means rubbish.


Umaga himself also played down the rumours of his job going to the Australian, adding that he was not a newcomer to the world of swirling rumours within professional sport.


“I know all this stuff is part of the game in this world of professionalism,” he said. “I am not just discovering this now and I am not fooled by it.


“But I am very annoyed by it. I do my job and I ask my players to give their all to be at the level the president has demanded of them.”


Umaga, who guided Toulon back into the French first division from the Pro D2, added: “If you’d told us last season, ‘In the Top 14, you will be seventh after five rounds’, nobody would have been disappointed.”


Toulon’s defence coach Lipi Sinnott, another Kiwi, was even blunter than Umaga.


“We don’t look at what’s been said or written about us,” he said.


“We have better and more important things to do than that.


“We have tough skin and in our place we need it.”

 

Top14Rugby.com

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