The 53-year-old Sébastien Bertrank will be Portugal’s new head coach, taking up the role after Patrice Lagisquet finished his tenure with the Portuguese union. The Portuguese Rugby Union opted to remain with a Frenchman, as the structural changes brought by Patrice Lagisquet and his staff were pivotal for Portugal to finish fourth in Pool C of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Sébastien Bertrank featured as a utility back in his career, having had stints for CA Brive, AS Montferrand (nowadays Clermont-Montferrand), and US Ussel. He never served as a senior international but played throughout all of France’s youth grades.
He retired in 1996 and started almost immediately his career as a coach, having moved from one place to another, making an impact in Montferrand (mainly in the beginning of the 2000s), and Carcassonne. He also coached the senior side of Union Sportive Usselloise in 2016 (Féderal 3).
Currently, Sébastien Bertrank is the lead coordinator of the DEJEPS, a sports program that belongs to the CREPS Montpellier and specialises in developing new rugby coaches. His role in moulding the new generation has been praised and highlighted by some, like Bakary Meité.
The former Ivory Coast international and TOP14 loose-forward, described Sébastien Bertrank as a rugby Sokrates in one Rugbyrama interview. In the same article, Meité added how influential Bertrank has been for upcoming coaches, as his knowledge, wisdom, and work rate are inspiring, and the fact he worked in varied fields gives him an adaptational advantage to any circumstance.
Like Patrice Lagisquet, when he stepped in as Portugal’s head coach, Sébastien Bertrank isn’t involved with any French top sides but has qualities that can work well for progressing Portuguese rugby in the upcoming years.
The Portuguese union didn’t disclose who will remain as part of the staff (Olivier Rieg and David Gérard have also moved on), as assistant coaches Luís Pissarra and João Mirra haven’t been confirmed as part of the setup for the next four years.
Portugal will be back on the pitch next February to play in the Rugby Europe Championship. They will visit Belgium in Brussels first, followed by a game against Poland in Lisbon, and a third Test Match against Romania in Bucharest.