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The French Rugby Federation announced Thursday the rejection of the appointment of Patrick Buisson as deputy president, chosen on the proposal of Bernard Laporte who was forced to withdraw from his post as president. The executive committee of the FFR will meet Friday with the Minister of Sports to try to find a way out of this crisis of governance.
Organized over several days this week, the consultation open to some 1,500 French clubs to appoint Patrick Buisson as deputy president of the FFR saw the “no” win at 51.06%, according to a press release released Thursday, January 26 by the French Rugby Federation.
This is a snub for Bernard Laporte, who had proposed Patrick Buisson at the head of the Federation after having been forced to withdraw from his functions due to a conviction for corruption, a sentence against which Bernard Laporte appealed.
About ten days before the opening of the Six Nations Tournament and seven months before the 2023 World Cup in France, the Laporte camp is now weakened: the some 1,500 clubs, which participated at 90.46% in this consultation spread over three days, said no to Buisson at 51.06%.
The steering committee of the governing body of French rugby will meet Friday, at the CNR of Marcoussis, in the presence of the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, “to decide on the follow-up to be given” to this vote, indicated the FFR .
The following ? There are two possibilities: either Bernard Laporte proposes a new candidate for the post of deputy president – thus leading to a new referendum – or new federal elections are organized within six weeks.
“Preserving the 2023 World Cup”
“The clubs have mobilized, the vote is very representative and the no wins despite the proximity of the World Cup”, explained to AFP Florian Grill, main opponent of the current management of the FFR.
“It’s not a defeat for Patrick Buisson or a victory for Ovale Ensemble. It’s a message that says the clubs want to turn the page (…) It is up to the management committee to be responsible by organizing general elections. This is the request of the clubs. Let’s have quick elections, bring rugby together and bring it together to succeed in a major challenge and preserve our France team”, added the president of the Ile-de-France League, who will be a candidate in the event of new elections.
“The steering committee just has to be respectful of the word of the clubs and have a sense of responsibility. We have to preserve the World Cup and not get bogged down in an infinite proposal of candidates which would be dangerous for rugby. “Grill added.
At 67, Buisson wanted to “embody the end of business”. This former scrum half, in charge of amateur rugby at the Federation, obviously did not convince his troops.
A withdrawal under duress
President of the FFR since December 2016, Bernard Laporte was given a two-year suspended prison sentence on December 13 for having entered into a “corruption pact” with the businessman and president of the Montpellier club Mohed Altrad.
Having appealed the decision, his sentence, accompanied by a ban on exercising his activity as president of the FFR, is not immediately enforceable.
The former coach of the Blues refuses as such to resign but agreed, under the joint pressure of the Minister of Sports, the National Rugby League (LNR) and the ethics committee of the FFR, to withdraw behind a delegate president until the appeal trial, which should only take place after the Mondial-2023.
Laporte was placed in police custody for a few hours on Tuesday January 24, the day after the opening of the vote, in a case of aggravated tax evasion money laundering but emerged free without prosecution at this stage.
“It is perfectly scandalous that the prosecution chose the date of the election of Mr. Patrick Buisson to fix that of the hearing and that the disclosure of this hearing was made the same day”, had then launched one lawyers for Laporte, Mr.e Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, castigating with AFP “a relentlessness of the PNF”.
The World Cup in France will open with a clash between the Blues of Fabien Galthié and the All Blacks.