France’s Sports Minister calls on rugby board to step down

The union grapples with the fallout of an extraordinary week.
France’s Sports Minister calls on rugby board to step down

FILE - Bernard Laporte  (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

France’s Sports Minister has called on remaining members of the FFR’s management board to do the honourable thing and stand down to allow new elections to take place following the resignation of Bernard Laporte as president.

Amelie Oudea-Castera said in an interview published in Monday's Midi Olympique that it was not too late for board members to ‘make the right decision’ as the union grappled with the fallout of an extraordinary end to an extraordinary week.

Laporte resigned with immediate effect at a board meeting convened on Friday, the day after the results of a consultation poll revealed French clubs had rejected his preferred candidate as delegate president.

A total 51.06 percent of clubs had voted against Laporte’s nomination of Patrick Buisson.

The board accepted Laporte’s resignation, but ignored Oudea-Castera's demand at the time that they resign en bloc, a move that would have triggered elections in six weeks.

It voted instead to remain and appoint an interim president who would be in post until elections at the FFR congress in Lille at the end of June, three months before the World Cup kicks off.

That decision prompted 11 board members to step down, including both representatives of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby, which runs the Top 14 and ProD2 leagues, leaving a rump of Laporte loyalists in post.

Oudea-Castera told Midi Olympique that the remaining FFR board members, “should be honoured to put their mandates back on the line, to take into account the position of the clubs”.

“I recall what Patrick Buisson himself said,” she added. “The consultation with clubs was also aimed at "revalidating" the board of directors. And, revalidated, it was not.

“I'm not blackmailing, not threatening… I'm just appealing to everyone's sense of responsibility. Respect for the decision of the clubs is the foundation of democracy in this federation. I want to say to the members of the steering committee - some of whom, I feel, have been shaken, embarrassed and disturbed by the situation - that it is not too late to make the right decision.” Oudea-Castera said: “The interests of rugby requires a purge of this crisis, with a board that starts again on the right foot, a board fully relegated by elections.

“The main issue in the consultation was not the future of Bernard Laporte, since his presidency had already been, in fact, totally deactivated.

“The main issue, as Patrick Buisson himself recognised, was: who will manage the future and what do clubs want for the future? To refuse to hear the message that the clubs have delivered is not respectful of this consultation.”

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