Show scores

Laporte explains France player showdown


Laporte reveals reasons why he bizarrely confronted France's players during the Six Nations

French president Bernard Laporte has finally shed light on his bizarre mid-Six Nations showdown with the Jacques Brunel’s squad. 

It would be unthinkable in rival Six Nations set-ups that a union boss would arrive at a squad’s training base seeking out confrontation with the players. 

However, there were apparently no boundaries in France when Laporte turned up at Marcoussis in the week after the humiliating loss to England at Twickenham for a frank discussion that apparently took place without coach Brunel in the room.

“I had things on my heart and I had to tell them,” explained Laporte following the completion of a campaign where France were fortunate to avoid their fourth defeat in five outings by managing to hold off Italy in Rome in their final match. 

“This time, I took off my president’s jacket and had an explanation between men… I wanted to share my feelings with them from the stands. 

(Continue reading below…)

Video Spacer

“You know, I am a volunteer president, a former club coach who has chosen to leave a very well paid job to serve French rugby. So I will do everything to make it work, both in terms of helping small clubs and training or teams in France,” Laporte told the newspaper edition of Midi Olympique. 

Laporte’s visit to the French squad coincided with a player vote of coincidence to retain Guilhem Guirado as captain amid speculation that Brunel wanted him to step away from the role. 

The French president insisted he had no involvement in this particular controversy, one of a number that dogged France during a tournament where their underwhelming level of performance left them finishing well off the pace in fourth place.  

“It does not belong to the president of the federation to meddle in these things. Yes, I often want to discuss rugby with the staff and players – which sometimes happens informally – but in no way do I impose my views. 

“On Guirado, it’s a polemic for nothing. Jacques Brunel and Serge Simon have asked him if this role had become too heavy. From what I know, there was never any question of telling him, ‘We take it away from you.’

“Believe me, if we had disrespected Guilhem, I would have intervened. There was no reason for me to do it. There is a staff in place. That’s all.”

Bernard Laporte, the French Rugby Federation president, looks on during the 2019 Guinness Six Nations match between Ireland and France in Dublin (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Laporte, though, admitted that the sudden parachuting of Brunel into the role of team boss following the December 2017 sacking of Guy Noves hasn’t been a success, France winning just five of their 16 matches since then.

“I was hoping for an electroshock, it didn’t work. In upsetting the staff because things were not going well, we were hoping for a better state of mind but the results did not follow.

“We need to go even further in terms of content and skills. I’m here to find solutions. Things must change and I will listen to the coaches in place to know their feelings. I wish we had a good World Cup in Japan. There is no question of going there as a victim.

France’s Damian Penaud (left) dives to score in Rome on Saturday despite a tackle from Italy’s Edoardo Padovani (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

“I do not want to impose anything on anyone, so I will discuss it very quickly with the people concerned, that is to say with Jacques Brunel and the members of his staff. 

“In my opinion, we need to bring even more skills in the management. We must bring other ideas in this staff and, like the other selections, have a real addition of skills. I want Jacques, but also his assistants share this observation. It must come from them. We will see each other this week to talk about it all.”

Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.

Laporte reveals reasons why he bizarrely confronted France's players during the Six Nations