Laporte falls on his World Rugby sword
BREAKING NEWS: Disgraced French boss Bernard Laporte has walked away from his position as vice-president of World Rugby.
In a curt statement on Tuesday, World Rugby confirmed that Laporte had “self-suspended” from all positions.
Laporte, President of the French Rugby Federation, had earlier received a two-year suspended prison sentence on corruption charges – just nine months before France hosts the sport’s World Cup.
World Rugby Statement: Bernard Laporte
World Rugby notes the decision by World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte to self-suspend from all positions held within its governance structures with immediate effect following his conviction by the French court in relation to domestic matters and pending his appeal.
While acknowledging Laporte’s self-suspension and right of appeal, given the serious nature of the verdict World Rugby’s Executive Committee has referred the matter to its independent ethics officer for review in accordance with its integrity code.
* To read the integrity code, CLICK HERE!
Laporte has been a player, coach and even a minister, overcoming controversy and setbacks to become one of the most powerful figures in the sport.
The 58-year-old, however, faces his greatest challenge now as he attempts to stay in his post, saying he will appeal against the suspended two-year prison sentence he received on Tuesday after being found guilty of corruption.
The court found Laporte had ensured a series of marketing decisions favourable to close friend and owner of Montpellier rugby club Mohed Altrad – who was given an 18-month suspended sentence and €50,000 fine – in exchange for a €180,000 (US$191,000) image licensing contract.
Laporte faces problems on the domestic front, too, with Florian Grill, who narrowly lost to him in the 2020 election for federation chief, calling for him and the entire board to stand down.
“It is unheard of in rugby, this is an earthquake,” he told AFP.
“We have never before seen a president of the federation condemned to two years in prison, even if it suspended.
“We think the 40 members of the board of directors should draw the obvious conclusions and resign.”
French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said the sentence was an “obstacle for Bernard Laporte to be able, as it stands, to continue his mission in good conditions” as federation president.
Oudea-Castera called for a “new democratic era to allow French rugby to rebound as quickly as possible and sufficiently healthy and solid, with a governance by the federation that will have the full confidence of the clubs”.
Altrad’s lawyer said he would study the decision before deciding on whether to appeal.
* Additional reporting by AFP