Mohed Altrad, the billionaire owner of Montpellier, hopes to have his proposed takeover of Gloucester confirmed by European Rugby bosses this week.
The takeover bid has been rumbling on for several weeks with rugby authorities keen to establish that there will no conflict of interest over owning two clubs who could compete in European competition. It is understood that Altrad will not be able to become a majority shareholder at Kingsholm but will still have a controlling interest of 45 per cent.
Reports in the French press continue to state that Altrad intends to bring in Philippe Saint-André as director of rugby to replace David Humphreys alongside coaches Gonzalo Quesada and Olivier Azam. Gloucester are already on the hunt for a new head coach after Laurie Fisher resigned following the defeat by Harlequins this month. However, Gloucester chief executive Stephen Vaughan denied that Altrad would influence his search for Fisher’s replacement.
The candidates include Johan Ackermann, the head coach of South African Super Rugby franchise the Lions. Ackermann has already claimed to have been approached by Gloucester and last weekend seemed to be weighing up an offer.
“The question for me is: where do I see my next challenge?” Ackermann said. “Do I want to coach in Super Rugby for another three or four seasons and believe that will be the best for me as a coach or do I leave this place in a good space and I test myself in Europe … at Heineken and Premiership level, and grow as a coach over there?
“It’s better to walk in and coach there than at Wasps. It’s probably the best time to go if you want to go because they aren’t doing as well as they would like, but that’s not to say that I’m going to be the one to change it. Time will tell.”
There have been some confirmed movements. Northampton have signed English fly-half Piers Francis, formerly at the Saracens academy, from New Zealand Super Rugby side the Blues, while Australia utility back Luke Morahan also heads north to join Bristol.