Romain Rouillard / Photo credit: DENIS CHARLET / AFP 08:00, September 02, 2023Asked on Europe 1 about a possible invitation of Bernard Laporte to the matches of the Rugby World Cup, Florian Grill, current boss of French rugby, has set a condition sine qua non. The former president of the FFR and coach of the XV of France, was found guilty at first instance of corruption and influence peddling.
To attend the Rugby World Cup in France, which he himself obtained the organization as former president of the FFR, Bernard Laporte will have to take out the checkbook. Guest of the show Le Studio des Légendes, on Europe 1, Florian Grill, the new boss of French rugby, has set his conditions for the former coach of the XV of France and Minister of Sports to receive an invitation card. Bernard Laporte will, in fact, have to pay, by September 8 - date of the opening match - the 150,000 euros advanced by the French Rugby Federation to pay his lawyer's fees.
Let's rewind. On December 13, Bernard Laporte was sentenced at first instance to two years in prison suspended, a fine of 75,000 euros and a two-year ban on exercising any function related to rugby. The former minister is accused of corruption and influence peddling because of a contract signed with businessman Mohed Altrad, also president of the Montpellier club. Worth 180,000 euros, this contract has never been honored on the side of Bernard Laporte but has led to a series of arbitrations favorable to the Altrad group, including the granting of jersey sponsorship of the XV de France or the easing of sanctions pronounced by the disciplinary commission of the NRL against the Montpellier club.
"In life, I like to settle your debts"
To pay his legal fees, Bernard Laporte benefited from an advance from the French Rugby Federation. On July 1, during the general assembly of the FFR in Lille, Alexandre Martinez, interim president of the body, assured that the former coach should reimburse the costs in question in the event that he is convicted on appeal, during the trial to be held in 2024. A version contradicted on July 19 by the newspaper L'Équipe, which affirms, for its part, that the said conviction would not automatically lead to a return of the money, because an agreement signed between Bernard Laporte and the FFR provides for a refund, only at the end of all possible legal remedies.
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But this Saturday, on Europe 1, it is the repayment of this debt that has been set as a condition sine qua non for Bernard Laporte to be invited to the high mass of world rugby. "I am an entrepreneur. In life, I like to settle your debts. So he will be very willingly invited by us provided that he has settled the debts he owes to French rugby," said Florian Grill.
"It's the money of everyday clubs"
The new boss of French rugby continues: "It's the money of amateur rugby, it's the money of everyday clubs. So I find it abnormal that the French Rugby Federation has paid legal fees for a trial that does not concern it." And in the event that the coach Fabien Galthié himself would request the presence of the Aveyronnais, "I would say 'no problem' but there is a prerequisite," answers Florian Grill. He concludes by reiterating his position: "I consider that in life, we pay our debts and then we discuss".