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Laporte No1 in latest top 50 most influential people in rugby list

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Christophe Simon/AFP via Getty Images)

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Nineteen people from England have been named in the latest Rugby World magazine biennial list of the 50 most influential people in the game – but Bernard Laporte, the controversial World Rugby vice-chairman from France, was chosen at No1 on the basis that “he’s moody, tough, controversial, but he gets things done”.

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Further explaining their choice of Laporte as rugby’s most influential person, Rugby World suggested: “Let’s build the profile of the man we believe to be the most influential person in world rugby right now; a tagline, incidentally, that all of those we spoke to in the highest corridors of power in the game would tend to agree with… If Bernard puts a tick in the box, then things get done quickly. If there is no tick from him, then you’re struggling.”

Laporte was one of the seven French people named in the top 50 – 2021 world player of the year, Antoine Dupont, was chosen at number four – a representation that gave France the second highest total behind England in a list in which eleven countries were represented.

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Administrators accounted for just under half of the top 50, its 46 per cent representation way ahead of the 14 per cent of players and twelve per cent of coaches that made the cut in a debate that included 28 per cent of people from other areas of the game.

This included the No2 pick, Nick Clarry, the CVC managing partner who was listed as the sixth most important person when the Rugby World list was last published in 2020. The magazine wrote: “There is no denying that Clarry et al are very good at what they do or that they have a seat at rugby’s very top table… Shining a light on the world of CVC is not exactly high in the venture capitalists’ list of desires, but the business they do is undeniable. And Clarry is a vitally important figure for their sports folio.”

The highest new entrant to feature on the list was Ben Morel, the Six Nations CEO, who checked in at No3. The most influential current coach was Fabien Galthie of France, who was listed at No7, eleven places ahead of England boss Eddie Jones, who was in 18th, and Ireland’s Andy Farrell, a new entry in 25th place.

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One of the biggest fallers was Rassie Erasmus. The Springboks director of rugby was listed as the sixth most influential person two years ago but his halo has since slipped, according to Rugby World, who on this occasion included him in 31st – a fall of 25 places. “Erasmus’ standing has been dented by the infamous 62-minute video lambasting Aussie ref Nic Berry for his officiating during 2021’s SA-Lions series,” read the verdict.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times for men’s rugby in South Africa since the giddy heights of their 2019 World Cup win as skipper Siya Kolisi, the No1 pick in the magazine’s 2020 list, dropped back ten places to eleventh. Counteracting that, Lynne Cantwell, the South African women’s high-performance manager, was a new entrant at No42, one place ahead of her fellow Irish person, Brian O’Driscoll.

The first woman to make the cut was Sally Horrox, the World Rugby director of women’s rugby. This new entrant was listed at No9, five places ahead of another new entrant, Sue Day, the RFU CFO and COO, who was the next woman included at No14.

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