Laporte narrowly re-elected French rugby president

Marcoussis (France) (AFP) –


Bernard Laporte was narrowly re-elected president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) on Saturday, edging challenger Florian Grill.

Laporte and his list of candidates received 51.47 percent of the votes, while Gill, the president of the Ile-de-France rugby region, collected 48.53 percent.

"To be elected on promises is one thing, to be re-elected on a track record is another," said Laporte, a former France coach and French minister of Sport as well as the recently-elected vice president of World Rugby.

"The clubs were not fooled. Democracy has spoken. I will be the president of all the clubs," he said at Marcoussis, the training base for the France team where the result was announced.

His slate won a majority of the 40 seats on the new board following an electronic vote held over Friday and Saturday.

Grill did not immediately comment on his narrow loss.

During an election marked by ferocious exchanges, Laporte's campaign was briefly interrupted when he was taken into police custody in late September as part of an investigation into suspicions that as president he favoured Top 14 club Montpellier.

The two sides had exchanged insults sometimes resorting to rugby metaphors.

Laporte called his opponents "cowardly" and accused them of "kicking a player on the ground".

Grill complained that Laporte preferred to "attack from behind."

One of Grill's supporters, Abdelatif Benazzi, a former France captain complained of "clannish leadership."

Laporte's mandate of four years means he will be the president of the FFR as France prepares to host the 2023 World Cup in France.