Jackman fired by troubled Grenoble

Grenoble's Irish coach Bernard Jackman, who been coaching in southeastern France since 2011, was fired on March 14, 2017

Irish coach Bernard Jackman was fired by Grenoble on Tuesday deepening the crisis at the Top 14 club as French police investigated claims of rape made by a young woman against players.

Club president Eric Pilaud told a press conference he hoped Jackman's departure would create "an electric shock" which would save the struggling outfit's season.

"Before the all-important final sprint we've decided that given the club dynamics the fact is that it seemed necessary to register without Bernard Jackman next season, and even right now," Pilaud said.

The 40-year-old's former Ireland and Leinster hooker had been coaching in south eastern France since 2011.

"We are aware that everything is under the microscope but it would have been damaging to wait another week," said Pilaud of the decision to sack Jackman.

The club which is in a battle to avoid relegation at the end of the season was plunged further into crisis this week with French police opening an inquiry into a claim of rape made by a woman against players following last weekend's Top 14 defeat in Bordeaux.

The alleged victim said she met the players in a nightclub and some of them drugged her and then forced her to go to a hotel where she was raped.

Pilaud called for respect for players and their families who were being dragged into "something which could be sordid".

"I respect the presumption of innocence," he said, adding that he hoped for a speedy outcome to the inquiry.

"It is obvious that if the facts are proven, it is repugnant, unacceptable and we will draw the consequences."

Grenoble's season could be impacted by the shock announcement of a merger between French giants Racing 92 and Stade Francais, winners of the last two Top 14 titles.

"(This) could be an opportunity for Grenoble's survival," against relegation to Pro D2, said Pilaud.

"We have six matches to save a very bad season. We want the players to take responsibility and to provoke an electric shock.

"The problem is not the competence of the players or the staff. Our difficulty is it's not working".

Grenoble will prepare for Saturday's match against Toulon behind closed doors in a bid to avoid media scrutiny, he said.