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Former World Rugby chief dies

NEWS: Bernard Lapasset, former president of Rugby Union’s governing body and the driving force behind Paris’ successful 2024 Olympic bid, has died. He was 75.


Lapasset passed away overnight Tuesday after battling a long illness.

He leaves behind him a life dedicated to sports administration at the highest level.

Lapasset, whose sole title as a player was as part of the Agen team that won the junior French Rugby Union title in 1967, worked his way up the French rugby federation (FFR) and served as president between 1991-2008.

He oversaw the creation of the French national rugby centre in Marcoussis and spearheaded the hosting of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

“The French rugby federation is deeply saddened by the death of Bernard Lapasset, a prominent leader of French sport in recent decades,” the FFR said.

“Lapasset devoted his life to rugby, be it as a player, coach, manager and ambassador. His impact on the development and promotion of rugby in France and around the world is undeniable.”


The Frenchman, who stood 1.91m tall, became president of the then-International Rugby Board – since renamed World Rugby – in 1995.

The period was a turning point in the game as it moved from amateur to professional.

Aside from the monumental shift of the game into its “open”, or professional era, Lapasset pushed for rugby to become more global.

He oversaw the inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Olympics from the 2016 Rio Games, attributed the 2019 World Cup to Japan and also helped integrate Argentina into the then-Tri-Nations, rebranded as the Rugby Championship.


After two mandates as IRB president, Lapasset moved on to become honorary president of the organising committee of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“The founder of Paris-2024 passed away yesterday,” tweeted Tony Estanguet, president of the organising committee for next year’s Games.

“Bernard Lapasset was an extraordinary sports leader. Epicurean, altruistic and benevolent, I appreciate how lucky I was to grow up alongside him. His passing is a huge loss.”

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera added: “With the death of Bernard Lapasset, France is losing a great lover of sport and one of its best historic ambassadors.”

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