The former Test hooker is now part of the back-room team

Raphael Ibanez: Ten things you should know about France’s team manager

Former France captain Raphael Ibanez was appointed the national team manager in 2019…

Ten things you should know about Raphael Ibanez

1. Raphael Ibanez was born on 17 February 1973 in Dax, France.

As a player, he represented Dax, Perpignan, Castres, Saracens, London Wasps and France.

2. He won back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams with France in 1997 and 1998.

3. His international career included being France captain and he led the country at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

At that tournament, France famously beat New Zealand in the semi-final before losing 35-12 to Australia.

4. Ibanez retired after the 2003 World Cup but the then head coach Bernard Laporte wanted him to play internationally again. He returned to the national set-up before announcing his second retirement in 2008.

5. At the time of his second retirement, Ibanez had the most international caps for a hooker with 98. He had also scored eight Test tries.

6. In 2007 he became the first player to score a try at Croke Park – the famous GAA ground – in France’s 20-17 win over Ireland.

7. He retired from all rugby in 2009 aged 36 following a series of concussions. He said at the time: “We all agreed that to avoid a bad injury it is time for me to stop playing. I tried everything to come back onto the pitch but it is just too risky.”

8. Ibanez returned to the France set-up when he was named team manager in 2019 alongside former team-mate Fabien Galthie.

The goal of the new management team is to guide France to success at the home World Cup in 2023 and the pair complement each other.

“Fabien’s rugby understanding is pretty phenomenal,” Ibanez says, while the former hooker is interested in the man-management side. He says: “Managing people is fascinating, it is definitely what I love the most and is the main reason why I was recruited.”

9. Ibanez has published two books.

10. He likes to fly fish, rock climb and kayak in his spare time.

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