Battle for FFR presidency turns ugly

Date published: July 29 2014

The war of words between FFR presidential candidate Bernard Laporte and incumbent Pierre Camou took another step up this week.

The war of words between FFR presidential candidate Bernard Laporte and incumbent boss Pierre Camou took another step up this week.

In early July, Toulon manager Laporte confirmed his ambition to take the helm of the Fédération Française de Rugby after the next round of elections in 2016.

The former Bleus coach and French Secretary of State for Sport has been an outspoken critic of the current regime in France at an administrative and coaching level while never mincing his words with regards to the referees either.

More than ever, Laporte seems determined to put an end to a system that he no longer supports.

“If there is only one candidate for the presidency of the FFR, for me it's the former USSR, not democracy,” said Laporte earlier this month.

“Rugby can not function like it did twenty years ago. We need to stop putting our heads in the sand.

“The French national team loses and nobody speaks up. That's not normal! The only thing that the leaders are interested in is keeping their jobs.

“The FFR is anything but democracy. Let's change: the Federation can not be managed by three or four people, who silence all others.”

Laporte has strong ideas about France coach Philippe Saint-André, but also the domestic championship, which he believes must be reformed.

“We have to move to a Top 12…and we must get rid of the play-offs,” he explained.

“That will not only give you have a real champion but you resolve the calendar problems.”

Camou has reacted strongly however, reminding Laporte that he too was the object of criticism during his time with les Bleus and that his strong language in the press regarding referees does not sit well with the stature of a president.

“In the top 10 largest hidings take by the French side, do not four or five of those, including the worst, belong to the person who speak out?,” said Camou in an interview with Midi Olympique, suggesting Laporte has a short memory when he attacks the current coach.

“I think in five years, have changed the structures of rugby. The results may only be seen in ten or fifteen years so it is this difference in time that is complicated,”

“The referees, I try to protect them. I make no declarations on the referees, even when I do not agree with them. ”

Camou believes that central contracts could be the answer to the national team's woes.

“I'm willing to pay a large part of the player's salary. The player is then under my legislation in terms of health and call ups,” he explained.

Laporte, was quick to reply, saying Camou's comments are a little late in coming.

“It's funny to see that we had to wait for me to speak out in order for these people to react at last!” he told La Provence.

“It's nevertheless been four years that they've done nothing. This is a good thing for French rugby. At least I have some use…

“As for Pierre Camou, he said he does not need to go to (radio station) RMC to be effective? That means he thinks he is effective in control of the Federation.

“I have won a lot (with France and the Toulon) yet I feel I am not good and things are always difficult. But he, by contrast, thinks he is good, but this is not what many people French rugby think.”