Rugby World Cup Pool A: Meet the head coaches in charge of each nation

Dylan Coetzee
Split with head coaches Kieran Crowley (Italy), Fabien Galthie (France) and Ian Foster (New Zealand)

Split with head coaches Kieran Crowley (Italy), Fabien Galthie (France) and Ian Foster (New Zealand)

The Rugby World Cup is ever so close and is set to be the most competitive edition of the global showpiece yet. There is still so much to discuss ahead of the action, starting with a closer look at the coaches in Pool A.

New Zealand – Ian Foster

The former fly-half had a successful career at club level, including over 150 appearances for Waikato and then the Chiefs from the mid-80s until 1998. However, Foster never got the chance to represent the All Blacks as a player.

Just four years after his final appearance, he coached Waikato for the 2002/03 season before taking over the Chiefs a year later until 2011. Meanwhile, from 2005, he worked with the Junior All Blacks, which led to an assistant role under Steve Hansen with the senior side before taking over as head coach after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Foster has endured a lot of pressure during his tenure, with a series loss at home to Ireland, a first defeat at home to Argentina and a record loss against the Springboks the main disappointments.

However, there have also been some impressive performances. Foster will vacate his role after the tournament and will be replaced by former Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson.

Accolades

Bledisloe Cup: 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
Rugby Championship: 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

France – Fabien Galthie

The French coach had a very successful playing career as a scrum-half, which began at Colomiers before he moved to Stade Francais. His performances earned him selection for Les Bleus, who he went on to represent on 64 occasions, which included captaining the side at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

It only took him one year after he retired to get into coaching with Stade Francais, where he worked from 2004 to 2008 before taking a two-year sabbatical as a pundit. He returned to the fold in 2010 with Montpellier, where he stayed for four years. Galthie would join Toulon in 2017 before he was awarded the honour of coaching his country after the 2019 World Cup.

The Frenchman has built a powerful Les Bleus side, which saw the team soar to number one in the world at a point, and now France heads into a home World Cup as one of the favourites. It is a massive tournament for the host nation.

Accolades

Six Nations Grand Slam: 2022

Italy – Kieran Crowley

The first coach on our list not from the country they are in charge of is Kieran Crowley, who was born in New Zealand. The former full-back and centre had a successful playing career where he played 199 games for Taranaki and 19 for the All Blacks.

Four years after his retirement in 1994, the tactician joined Taranaki as an assistant before taking over the head coaching role, which resulted in a year with New Zealand U19. Crowley left the country to coach Canada between 2008 and 2016 before moving to Benetton and ultimately, Italy in 2021.

A feature of his tenure with the Azzurri is how he has encouraged them to play higher intensity and take on more risk, which has led to some beautiful tries. Like Foster, Crowley is in his final year as head coach as he will be replaced by Argentine coach Gonzalo Quesada after the tournament.

Uruguay – Esteban Menses

The Argentine-born coach used to play on the flank but never got the chance to feature at Test level and, as a coach, has only worked with Uruguay in the international arena after working with various young teams in Argentina.

He took over the side in 2015 and has built a developing team that has impressed the rugby world. Under his guidance, Uruguay claimed an historic victory over Fiji at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Accolades

South American Rugby Championship: 2016, 0217
World Rugby Nations Cup: 2017, 2018, 2019

Namibia – Allister Coetzee

A former scrum-half during his playing days and a very experienced coach. The South African-born 60-year-old began his coaching career in 1996 with Eastern Province as an assistant before a stint with the Emerging Springboks.

After a year as an assistant for the Sharks and two years as head coach of the Mighty Elephants, he joined Jake White’s Springboks coaching team as an assistant and went on to win the World Cup in 2007.

Two assistant stints with the Cats and Stormers followed before he took over the hot seat in Cape Town from 2010 to 2015, when he left to join the Kobelco Steelers in Japan. He then got his chance as head coach of the Springboks, which only lasted two years in what was a tremendously difficult period for the country.

He took over Namibia in 2021 after two years with the Canon Eagles in Japan and will be looking to prove his worth in France this year.

Accolades

Currie Cup (Western Province): 2012, 2014

READ MORE: All the Rugby World Cup warm-up results ahead of the main event