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'I never spoke to Munster' - French coach Sonnes stresses loyalty to Bandon

The highly-regarded former Bordeaux forwards coach has been in Ireland since last summer.

FRENCH COACH RÉGIS Sonnes has stressed that there was no foundation whatsoever to rumours linking him with a role with Munster, and insisted that he will not be leaving his current roles with Bandon RFC and Bandon Grammar School.

The former Bordeaux forwards coach has been in Ireland since a surprise move from the Top 14 last summer, having agreed to bring his family to Bandon to take up a unique dual position with the club and school in the West Cork town.

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 18.33.25 Sonnes is a former head coach of Spain. Source: YouTube/Rugby La Vila TV

With Bandon RFC currently in contention towards the top of the Munster Junior League Division 1 table and Bandon Grammar’s senior team – head coached by Denis Collins - into the semi-finals of the Munster Schools Cup, Sonnes’ impact is already being felt.

However, a report in the French media last weekend suggested that former Toulouse and Agen flanker Sonnes would be linking up with Munster as forwards coach, with some Irish publications subsequently aggregating the report.

Speaking on Monday, Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus denied that there was any truth in the story, stating that he had never even spoken to Sonnes.

44-year-old Sonnes, who previously had a stint as head coach of Spain, was similarly taken aback by the reports and says they caused confusion in Bandon.

“I woke up on Sunday morning and my sister was asking what had happened,” said Sonnes in Bandon today. “It was crazy because, first, I never spoke with any person in Munster and I’m not here looking for an opportunity like it.

“Essentially, I’m here in Bandon to start a project and if a professional team called me now I wouldn’t think about going. I have started here now, I’m working hard, we are working hard in the club and school.

“For respect of this club and school, and the players, there’s no sense to go now. I want to do a good job, so I never spoke to Munster. I’m not looking for an opportunity like it. It was difficult for me because it’s a bad message for the club, school and players.

Bandon celebrates after the game Sonnes is working with Bandon Grammar, who are into the semi-finals of the Munster Schools Senior Cup for the first time this year. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“They thought I was using this place to go after a job. I’m not here for that, so it was difficult for me because I needed to make sure [that was understood] with everyone quickly.

“I’m sorry for Munster too because it’s difficult for them and they might think, ‘What’s happening with this guy?’ It’s really strange.”

Sonnes is in the first season of a two-year deal in Bandon, with an option for a third year.

His role involves head coaching Bandon RFC’s first team and overseeing the rest of the club’s rugby programme, while he is working in a similar developmental position with the ever-improving Bandon Grammar School.

Sonnes, who is highly regarded in France and whom Bordeaux fought hard to keep in the Top 14 beyond last season, is already thinking about a possible fourth year in West Cork, having settled in happily with his family.

You can read a full feature about Régis Sonnes and how the unique partnering between Bandon RFC and Bandon Grammar School brought him to Ireland on The42 this Sunday.

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Murray Kinsella

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