Guilhem Guirado has reportedly been stripped of the France captaincy after falling out with senior team management.
Guirado has not started a match since his team’s opener against Argentina, which France won 23-21, with Camille Chat preferred at hooker and Jefferson Poirot as captain.
Eight years after a player coup took France from a shock pool-stage loss against Tonga to the World Cup final, French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique has reported a fallout between Guirado and the senior staff that includes head coach Jacques Brunel and assistant Fabien Galthie, who is set to replace Brunel after the World Cup.
The newspaper claims Guirado remains ‘the players’ captain’, but Poirot seems set to skipper Les Bleus against England on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has launched a scathing attack on the France coaching staff and urged the players to run the show.
‘Take control guys, take the power, because there are coaches all over the place. Our team spirit is almost non-existent,’ Boudjellal said. ‘Individually, we have players who are world-class. Collectively, for several years, that hasn’t been the case.
‘Since when have we been frightened against these teams [such as Tonga], who we respect, of course, but who aren’t on our level? Take control guys, because it is your history, your World Cup.
‘You are there for your career and for your country. You are there for French rugby and to try to go as far as possible, to see if you can win this World Cup – but we will only get there if you take control.’