“Deputy President, he is not a nominee”, assures Patrick Buisson, proposed to replace Bernard Laporte

Bernard Laporte and Patrick Buisson, in Bourgoin-Jallieu (Isère), June 5, 2021.

Patrick Buisson was proposed by Bernard Laporte to occupy the post of deputy president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), after his “withdrawal” following his conviction at first instance for corruption. Before the vote of the 1,900 amateur clubs, from Monday January 23 to Thursday January 26, to validate – or not – his new function, the current vice-president in charge of amateur rugby for the FFR responds to the World.

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How do you approach this referendum, and if it is positive for you, the mandate that will be entrusted to you?

In a very simple way: democracy will express itself. But it’s a referendum, not an election [pour la présidence de la FFR]which will take place in 2024. This is the continuity of the mandate of the Steering Committee, which was democratically re-elected [en 2020], the texts provide for this referendum. Today, it’s time to come together to push behind the XV of France. A few months before the World Cup [en France, du 8 septembre au 28 octobre]we should not be in a division: what we want is stability.

How independent are you from Bernard Laporte, of whom you were a close collaborator? Since he remains president of the FFR, how to guarantee that he will no longer participate, in the shadows, in major decisions?

There was a judgment, the minister [des sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castera,] asked Bernard Laporte to step back, and he did so while awaiting the deliberation of his appeal trial. And we don’t see it anymore! Today, Bernard Laporte is no longer with the French Rugby Federation, he has retired. And during the World Cup, if there has not been the appeal trial and the final decision, he will not be able to represent the federation in the protocol and will not be in the stands, that is clear.

Am I a nominee? Let’s imagine that the “yes” wins, I will then be deputy president, and this is not a nominee. The Deputy Chairman will make all decisions. He will sit on the federal office, on the steering committee and will be in direct contact with elected officials – such as the general treasurer, the general secretary and the vice-presidents. It is a position of responsibility, and I have no fear of being able to assume it.

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After the conviction for corruption of Bernard Laporte and the ousting, in the fall of 2022, of Claude Atcher from the public interest group (GIP) France 2023, the governance of French rugby is going through a zone of turbulence. How do you intend to restore the institution’s credit after these cases?

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