June 15, 2021

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Rugby: end of the campaign under very high tension at the French Federation

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Their custody ended Wednesday, September 23, in the early evening, after a good thirty hours of hearing. All the protagonists of the episode left free, without any indictment, without opening judicial information. For the moment.

→ READ. Rugby: Bernard Laporte placed in custody in the Altrad case

But the management team of the French Rugby Federation can look gray: for its president Bernard Laporte, its vice-president Serge Simon, its international relations manager Nicolas Hourquet, its director of the organizing committee for the 2023 World Cup Claude Atcher, and his great financier, the billionaire Mohed Altrad, owner of the Montpellier club, this long stay in the Parisian premises of the Economic Crime Repression Brigade (BRDE) is obviously very bad publicity.

Basically, there is a case of favoritism opened by the national financial prosecutor’s office since 2017 concerning, above all, Bernard Laporte and Mohed Altrad, and, more generally, a case with drawers concerning the conditions of attribution of the World 2023. But there is above all a question of “timing”, this custody falling barely ten days before the election to the presidency of the French Rugby Federation, on October 3.

“A putsch”, for Bernard Laporte

For Bernard Laporte, who is seeking a second term, it is understood: it is about“A real coup attempt, the motivation of the authors of which is beyond doubt, he gets angry in a letter to the clubs written before his custody but sent during. All this is part of a real nauseating electoral strategy ”.

→ TO (RE) READ. Rugby, what do we blame Bernard Laporte for?

Without naming him, the president of the FFR is targeting his opponent, Florian Grill, business manager and president of the Île-de-France regional league. “You will notice that in more than a year that I have campaigned, I have never spoken about this affair, assures Florian Grill, and I’m not going to start now. Let her take her course. I remain focused on club life, my main concern. “

There are now a few days of campaign to the two candidates to go fishing in extremis the last votes. Bernard Laporte is expected this Thursday, September 24 in Montpellier, where the France 2023 train which boasts the upcoming World Cup stops by visiting 24 cities until October 12. The opponents of the outgoing president do not fail to rant against this promotional operation which conveniently allows Bernard Laporte to highlight one of the strong points of his mandate, the achievement of global competition. Florian Grill, for its part, continues its grid of the ground, with its “230 interactive meetings which resulted in a co-constructed program”, indicates the candidate.

A vote “for or against Bernard Laporte”

At the end of 2016, the challenger Laporte had plowed the ground against the installed team of Pierre Camou. Some were suddenly moved by the means spent by the hot candidate, between 110,000 and 150,000 € depending on the sources, but without real certainty on the subject. Florian Grill claims to finance his campaign this year with donations limited to € 10,000 per donor, which would have enabled him to raise for the moment “A little over 100,000 €”.

Lots of energy and resources for a campaign now shaken up by the judicial calendar? This is what this leader in Occitania fears, who prefers to remain anonymous: “Everything will come down to a for or against Bernard Laporte. His detractors will be confirmed in their idea of ​​clan management of the FFR, and his supporters will be even more certain that his personality disturbs some interests. And as always, the programs go by the wayside. “

Two different visions

But do they have a really different vision of the rugby of tomorrow, these programs? Bernard Laporte always insists on two priorities: the clubs and the French teams. To the former, he promises a lot, in particular the 80 or 100 million euros in economic benefits expected from the 2023 World Cup. For the latter, he sees big: the world title for women in 2021, for men in 2023 obviously , and Olympic gold for rugby 7s in 2024. Priority therefore to the Blues. Even if it means sometimes twisting the arm of professional clubs. The current conflict between the FFR and the National Rugby League (LNR) over the provision of internationals for the next matches of the Blues (the FFR wants to program six, the LNR only wanted five, Editor’s note) testifies to this.

→ TO (RE) READ. Rugby: defeated, the XV of France is now heading for “his” World Cup

This is undoubtedly the main divide between the two candidates. “This brutal management creates phenomenal and deadly tensions, judge Florian Grill. Relations between FFR and LNR must be pacified. In the same way, we must give meaning to what we do, an educational and societal meaning to this rugby which structures many villages. Which is not at odds with performance. “

For the rest – the effort to be made for volunteers, the need to reinvest in school sport, the obligation to reverse the curve of licensees – the two candidates share the objectives if not the way to achieve it . But these points of convergence are well and truly lost in the hubbub of an exacerbated end of the campaign. The last hours will be at la castagne. For a result without doubt very tight. For the winner, treating wounds will not be easy.

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