Brunel to be Italy coach after World Cup

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The Independent Online

Perpignan boss Jacques Brunel will succeed Nick Mallett as Italy coach after the World Cup, the Italian rugby federation said today.

South African Mallett was told last month that his contract would not be renewed after September's World Cup in New Zealand despite the modest Azzurri side's shock win over France in this year's Six Nations.

Frenchman Brunel has signed a four-year deal until after the 2015 World Cup.

"Italy is already a great rugby nation, they have been playing in the Six Nations for over 10 years," Brunel said in a statement.

"In the coming months I will study the national side and Italian rugby from the outside."

The 57-year-old will also be in charge of the coaching set-up at the Italian federation and supervise Italy's two Celtic league teams Aironi and Treviso, who were added to the Scottish, Welsh and Irish domestic league last year to try to further boost Italian rugby.

However, Italy's international prospects still look difficult after years of constant defeats despite some battling performances.

Interest in rugby is growing in Italy, as proved by the 80,000 sell-out crowd which watched the test against New Zealand at Milan's San Siro in 2009, but the national side continues to rely on foreign-born players from countries such as Australia and Argentina.

Federation president Giancarlo Dondi said: "We are happy to have reached an agreement with a coach like Brunel, who has achieved great results both as coach of the France forwards and as boss of Perpignan."