Disgraced ex-French president linked with a coaching return to relegation-threatened Top 14 club

Jared Wright
Ex France Rugby president Bernard Laporte.

Ex France Rugby president Bernard Laporte.

Former Federation Francaise de Rugby president and World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte could make his return to coaching with Montpellier.

Laporte resigned from his role with the FFR and World Rugby in December last year after his conviction for corruption.

Bernard Laporte to return to coaching?

A former coach and player for the French national team, Laporte was handed a two‑year suspended prison sentence last year, prompting his resignation.

He was found guilty of an illegal conflict of interests, influence peddling and four instances of passive corruption, notably involving Montpellier owner and long-time friend Mohed Altrad – who was also found guilty for similar charges and received an 18-month suspended prison sentence and a 50,000 euro fine.

However, he looks set to make his return to rugby, with Altrad reportedly offering him a role at Montpellier following the club’s lacklustre start to the 2023/24 season.

According to a report by French publication Midi Olympique, Altrad has resumed contact with Laporte after attempting to recruit him as a coach in 2016.

This comes off the back of several reports that new head coach Richard Cockerill’s job is under fire at Montpellier after a torrid start to his time in charge of the side, losing six of their opening seven games, including a derby day loss to Perpignan.

The results have left Montpellier routed to the bottom of the league table and are in serious danger of being relegated.

Richard Cockerill’s position

Midi Olympique’s report states that Laporte’s potential arrival would not be at Cockerill’s expense but rather that the ex-World Rugby bigwig would be taking up a director role at the club.

However, it adds that it would be another indication of the club’s distrust in Cockerill, who only joined the Top 14 side at the start of the season after working in Steve Borthwick’s England coaching staff.

It is believed that Laporte has been contacted several times in recent days and has now been given a verbal offer for the position and is expected to respond in the coming days.

Montpellier got off to a strong start under Cockerill, winning their opening game of the season, defeating La Rochelle 26-15. However, they have lost six on the bounce since.

The likes of Toulouse, Stade Francais, Racing 92, Bordeaux, Clermont and fellow relegation-threatened Perpignan have all beaten the side that won the Top 14 in 2022.

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