Bernard Laporte resigns from the presidency of the French Rugby Federation

The amateur rugby clubs will have made it bend, where neither the indictments, police custody or even a conviction – in the first instance – had not succeeded. According to information from World, Bernard Laporte decided to resign, Friday, January 27, from the presidency of the French Rugby Federation (FFR). An inevitable choice for the former coach of the XV of France, the day after the result of the ballot having disavowed the candidate designated by Bernard Laporte to assume his prerogatives, the time that he is fixed on his appeal trial.

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Thursday, after seventy-two hours of voting, the “cardinals” of French rugby had refused the anointing to Patrick Buisson; plunging the Marcoussis National Rugby Center (Essonne) into uncertainty, a few months before the 2023 World Cup, which will be held in France. Called since Monday to express – electronically – their opinion on the governance of the FFR, the presidents of all the associations of amateur clubs in France have decided: although close, the result of the ballot, communicated Thursday, January 26, is final. . With 51.06% of the vote, French rugby rejected the candidate proposed by Bernard Laporte.

On Friday, during the FFR steering committee meeting to “decide on the follow-up to be given to the result of this consultation”, the secretary general of the federation, Christian Dullin, confirmed that Bernard Laporte has decided to leave his post at the head of the FFR. The resignation of the man who had held this position since 2016 and had been re-elected in 2020 should lead to a power vacuum and trigger an election. In the wake of the announcement, the nine elected members of the opposition as well as the two representatives of the National Rugby League (LNR), chose to resign from the steering committee.

Minister’s pressure

Sentenced on December 13, 2022 to a two-year suspended prison sentence, a fine of 75,000 euros and a two-year ban on exercising any function related to rugby – in particular for “passive corruption”, “influence peddling” and “Illegal taking of interests” – Bernard Laporte appealed. And initially intended, presumption of innocence obliges, to remain in place at the presidency of the FFR. But, under pressure from the sports minister, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, and the federation’s ethics committee, the leader agreed to a “withdrawal” causing him to lose all of his duties except the title. And proposed, in accordance with the statutes of the FFR, a delegate president to replace him.

Responsible for weighing the pros and cons of Patrick Buisson’s candidacy, the approximately 1,500 amateur clubs that dot French rugby have chosen to give up. A snub for Bernard Laporte, who had personally appointed the vice-president of the FFR in charge of amateur rugby, and had incorporated his name into the question posed to the clubs: “Do you approve of Bernard Laporte’s proposal to appoint Patrick Buisson as deputy president of the FFR? »

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“I find it incredible that it is the president who has been asked to step down who is proposing his successorscolded, Thursday, Eric Marchoux, president of the Lacapelle-Biron club (Lot-et-Garonne) and assumed opponent of the still president. The fact of mentioning Bernard Laporte in the question was not insignificant: it was not a vote for Patrick Buisson. » Although the latter repeated last week in The world that he “would make all the decisions” in case of yes and that “deputy president, he is not a nominee”for many clubs, the shadow of Bernard Laporte hovered behind the one who has been part of his close guard since 2016.

“I am disappointed with this result, which has a double trigger effect, because I cannot find out whether people sanctioned Patrick Buisson or Bernard Laporte”, noted Francis Cazeneuve, president of the TOEC TOAC FCT Rugby, in Toulouse. Among the supporters of the president “for everything he has brought to rugby, in a term and a half”the leader of Fédérale 1 (firstlevel of amateur rugby) recognizes that the placement in police custody on Tuesday of Bernard Laporte in a case other than that for which he was convicted may have disrupted the vote. “Within the Ligue Occitanie, a lot of people told me ‘It’s starting to do a lot’. »

An interim president or new elections

The result was this vote of no confidence, far from the success expected by the steering committee. For Florian Grill, president of the Ile-de-France League and leader of Oval together, the association of opponents of Bernard Laporte, this ballot contains two messages. “The first is participation, more than 90% of clubs voted. The second is the resultassures the one who had been beaten by the former coach of the Blues two years ago, during the election (on a mark of 51% against 49%). The message is clear, the clubs did not vote against Patrick Buisson, they demanded elections. »

After the resignation of Bernard Laporte on Friday, they will get them. Presented by Patrick Buisson as ” a step “ allowing to “revalidate the steering committee”, the club vote thwarted the ambition of the current majority to unite French rugby under its colors. And if it had the possibility, the steering committee did not consider the option of a second referendum, presenting another name. “We are not going to pile up the candidates for the post of deputy president. We will certainly go to the elections ”anticipated Patrick Buisson, last week, on France Bleu.

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“This consultation is engaging, and we must draw the necessary conclusions”, corroborated Amélie Oudéa-Castéra on Thursday evening. Invited to the steering committee of the FFR on Friday – an invitation issued before the vote – the minister took note of the resignation of the president, confirmed at the start of the session by the secretary general, Christian Dullin. “I welcome this decision, I think it was necessary at the end of this consultation. »

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Because it seemed unthinkable to play the watch. “For rugby and the general interest, a solution must be found quickly”insisted Francis Cazeneuve, Thursday, recalling the deadline for the 2023 World Cup, organized in September and October in France and around which all tricolor rugby has revolved for years. “People who go to see the games, they don’t care about our governance problems. »

Read also: French Rugby Federation: amateur clubs reject the delegate president proposed by Bernard Laporte to replace him during his “withdrawal”

If the close supporters of Bernard Laporte, gathered Thursday to find a way out of the crisis in the situation, considered the collective resignation of the steering committee, that of Bernard Laporte, Friday, triggers a process of vacancy of power. After the resignation of elected officials from the opposition and the LNR on Friday – in an attempt to force the entire steering committee to surrender its apron and trigger general elections – Bernard Laporte’s close guard finds itself even more isolated.

“The way that [paraît] the clearest, sharpest, most legitimate and also the fastest [est celle] of a resignation from the management committee”, insisted Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, Friday morning. But if nothing moves, an interim president, named among the members of the federal office, should be appointed until the next general assembly (from June 29 to 1er July, in Lille), where the amateur clubs, the very ones whose vote sounded the death knell for the Laporte era at the FFR, will be called upon to elect a new president.


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