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08th Apr 2016

Bernard Jackman set to prove coaching credentials to provincial blazers and IRFU king-makers

Well regarded

Patrick McCarry

We wanted to be a Leinster legend but, first, he proved his worth with Connacht. Then he did it all over again.

Bernard Jackman finally got his wish of representing his home province in 2005. Whilst at Leinster, he won a league title and a Heineken Cup.

He retired, content that he had achieved some great deeds, but he did not stay away from the game for too long.

In 2012, Jackman was coaching Clontarf and the Dublin City University sides when Grenoble got in touch and asked for a dig-out. ‘Birch’ was a remote defence coach – analysing video, players and sending set-plays, structures and ideas from his home in Dublin.

He impressed the Grenoble brass enough to get invited over for the real stuff. Grenoble rose from Pro D2 to the Top 14 and threatened Champions Cup qualification. Jackman was promoted from one of the coaching staff to top dog.

Bernard Jackman 3/4/2004

On Saturday evening, at the Stade des Alpes, Jackman’s Grenoble take on a Connacht side that are flying high on all fronts.

Conquering his old province would be a big step in proving his coaching credentials to the provincial blazers and the king-makers at the IRFU.

SpprtsJOE caught up with Eric Clert, rugby correspondent with Le Dauphiné Libéré, to get his take on an Irish coach that has proved his mettle in one of world rugby’s toughest leagues.

What is the general perception of Bernard Jackman and the style of play he has brought to Grenoble?

Jackman took over a lot of responsibilities in recent years. He started off in charge of the defence and became head coach. He carries a lot of weight, and influence, with his staff.

Jackman says he prefers his teams to be expansive. Could that be why is team score and concede plenty of tries?

Grenoble have one of the worst defences in the Top 14 this season [With 508 points conceded, only bottom sides Oyonna and Agen have fared worse]. They play with a very aggressive defensive structure – seeking turnovers and counter-attacks.

As a result, they score heavily – fifth for tries scored [51] and fourth overall for points registered [503]. Their fly-half, Jonathan Wisniewski was the league’s leading scorer last season.

It is not easy for them to recruit as players often prefer to play in the South of France. That is why there are so many foreign players at the club.

Mike Prendergast  and Bernard Jackman 7/8/2015

What do the locals make of the Irish revolution?

In December, Sylvain Begon, who is a legend of the club, was dismissed as forwards coach. Some have said it was because he did not fit in with the Irish.

Certain fans have remarked on the pervading Irish influence on the club – Jackman, backs coach Mike Prendergast, Andrew Farley [team manager] and players Chris Farrell, James Hart and Denis Coulson.

Do you think Jackman would do well in charge of an Irish province?

Bernard and his family are very fond of Grenoble, and France, but he has never hidden his desire to lead an Irish province and, why not, the national team.

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