Toulouse coach Guy Noves admitted that turning down the offer to become the next French coach had been one of the toughest decisions he had ever made.
"It was with a heavy heart that I turned down the coaching job. It has been an enormous honour for me [to be considered] and I thank those who thought of me," Noves, who lead Toulouse to an 18th league title last June, told Equipe TV.
Noves had been approached by the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to take over from Marc Lievremont after this year's World Cup. But after his refusal Toulon sporting director Philippe Saint-Andre was revealed as Lievremont's replacement.
"It's no secret that my sporting life began here 35 years ago," said Noves, who has spent virtually the whole of his career at Toulouse playing for them from 1975-88 and has been head coach since 1993.
Noves - who has coached Toulouse to nine domestic titles and four European Cup trophies - added that it would have been "complicated to let the people here down, whether it be the staff or the entourage".
The 57-year-old said there was "an emotional part of course, but also professional and a question of responsibility while at the same time knowing I'm not irreplaceable."
"Myself and club officials and our president have initiated some important projects for Toulouse - the opening of a new training centre, a training project with Philippe Rouge-Thomas," he said, adding: "it wouldn't be the time to drop all that."
"What is important today is the France team, the staff who are leaving for the World Cup," he said. "At the moment they're the people we have to support before talking about the future. I for one can tell you that I'll be 100 percent behind the France team."
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.