End of reign? Certainly. Game over ? This is an other story. By presenting his resignation to the steering committee of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) meeting on Friday January 27 in Marcoussis (Essonne), its president Bernard Laporte only consented to the inevitable. His position had been increasingly untenable since his conviction on December 13, 2022 to a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of €75,000, in particular for passive corruption, influence peddling and illegal taking of interests.
The Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, had immediately called for her resignation, very quickly followed by the National Rugby League (LNR), the governing body of professional clubs, considering that it was necessary “bringing peace to French rugby through the organization by the FFR of new elections”. By negotiating his “withdrawal” pending his appeal, Bernard Laporte refused to abdicate, counting on the consent of the clubs called upon to validate by a vote the name of his temporary replacement, the vice-president of the FFR Patrick Bush. The result of the ballot fell Thursday, January 26, a real slap in the face for an already staggering president. With more than 90% turnout, 51.06% of voters rejected the proposal.
An untenable situation
Bernard Laporte could only draw the consequences and lower his head to the exit. Except that the page is not quite turned. Because the sequel that the steering committee, sovereign in the matter, seeks to write, reflects the divisions that still agitate the “big family” of rugby. The statutes of the FFR offered two possible solutions. Or under the terms of article 21, the appointment of an interim president, then the convening next June of a general meeting of the FFR to elect a new president within the current steering committee. That is, under the terms of article 15, a resignation of the whole of the steering committee causing within six weeks the organization of new elections more widely open.
At the end of the meeting at the start of which she had invited herself on Friday morning, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra hastened to ask these elements, however affirming her preferences: ” VSwas somewhere my advisory role (…) I told them that the path which seemed to me the clearest, the clearest, the most legitimate and also the fastest, because we all want this crisis to be able to go to its end. term and be resolved quickly now, was the way for a resignation from the steering committee. » This solution was also called for by the opposition to Bernard Laporte, the Ovale ensemble collective led by the president of the Ile-de-France Regional League Florian Grill, a candidate who failed by a small amount in the last federal elections (49% compared to 51% at Bernard Laporte in 2020).
The federal opposition also resigns
But the steering committee, where 40 members sit, including 9 from the opposition, did not choose this path, favoring the appointment of an interim president and the convening in Lille at the end of June-beginning of July of an elective general assembly. evoking a “putsch”the opposition immediately decided to resign. “We cannot condone this hold-upgot carried away Florian Grill. By resigning, we put them before their responsibilities. We asked the clubs for their opinion and, today, we come to tell them that their opinion is useless. All that is not serious, all that is not responsible. It’s rude to the clubs. It’s serious. » At the start of the afternoon, the two representatives of the national rugby league (LNR) on the steering committee, its president René Bouscatel and the president of the Toulousain stadium, Didier Lacroix, resigned in turn.
French rugby therefore ends the week without a president, but still in crisis. Seven months before the World Cup, the picture may be less tarnished, but still very blurry. The XV of France is preparing to begin (Sunday February 5 against Italy) in this climate a Tournament of the Six Nations decisive for its confidence before the global deadline. Coach Fabien Galthié, long very close to Bernard Laporte, has applied himself for months to staying away from current debates, keeping the XV of France in his bubble, in his unalterable project.
This is also the only anchor of the scattered oval. Not touch the XV of France, swear all the protagonists of the current soap opera. That the Blues continue to win, shared hope. For the rest, it’s still open scrum. Which is not quite the best representation of the famous “French flair”.