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WORLD RUGBY HALL OF FAME – INDUCTEE NO.140 – PIERRE VILLEPREUX
Born: 5 July, 1943 in Pompadour, France
Pierre Villepreux was an elegant, goal-kicking full-back who played for Toulouse and, between 1967 and 1972, for France, scoring 166 points in his 34 tests, most memorably helping Les Bleus overwhelm England 35-13 at Colombes in 1970.
However, it was as an innovative, free-thinking coach that Villepreux was revered throughout the rugby world. He took as his coaching creed "flexibility and adaptability, not organisation” and espoused the traditional open French style of play.
In 1985 he coached Toulouse to their first national championship in 38 years and added two more titles in his time with the club while working alongside Jean-Claude Skrela. That partnership was renewed when, after a disappointing showing at Rugby World Cup 1995, Skrela replaced Pierre Berbizier as France head coach and eventually turned to his former team-mate, ending Villepreux’s time overseas where his influence was felt in Italy, as head coach of the national team, Wales and England.
Adopting Villepreux’s brand of ‘total rugby’, a revitalised France won back-to-back Five Nations titles in 1997 and 1998 and then reached the final of RWC 1999, having seen off New Zealand in one of the competition’s all-time classic semi-finals.
At the end of the tournament, Villepreux was appointed as the FFR's technical director. He later went on to work for the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby) as the regional development manager for Europe.
Inducted in September 2018