French rugby is mourning the loss of former Albi head coach and Montpellier forwards coach Eric Béchu, who passed away in a Toulouse clinic on Tuesday. He was 53.
Born and raised in Toulouse, Béchu was head coach at Albi for 11 years between 1999 and 2010 before joining close friend Fabien Galthié's staff at Montpellier.
In December 2011, he stepped away from his role to fight against an unnamed illness. He returned four months later, 30 kg lighter, to help Montpellier to the Top 14 play-offs.
A respected strategist and a rugby man through and through, Béchu was known for his charisma and for never mincing his words. He will be greatly missed.
"Eric Bechu has departed, battling as he always had done during his life, as he had always taught our players and the many others he had coached over the years to do," the club said in a statement.
"We will keep him close to our hearts, the victories, the defeats as well, and the extraordinary adventure that we experienced alongside him in the past few years.
"We will remember him for being a man of values: those of rugby and those of life as well.
"Our thoughts are with his wife and two daughters at this painful moment. Farewell Eric."
Montpellier's first match without him will be the crucial European Cup clash with Top 14 rivals Toulon on Saturday where victory for Galthie's side will all but guarantee them a place in the last eight.