Laporte and Maso eye glorious French swansong

9th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

9 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - Bernard Laporte and Jo Maso, the twin brains behind France's World Cup campaign, will be aiming for a glorious swansong after Saturday's stunning 20-18 quarter-final win over the All Blacks.

9 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - Bernard Laporte and Jo Maso, the twin brains behind France's World Cup campaign, will be aiming for a glorious swansong after Saturday's stunning 20-18 quarter-final win over the All Blacks.

Next up for Laporte, who will become French government sports minister after the campaign is over, and Maso, is a chance for revenge over England in Saturday's semi-finals.

Four years ago, Jonny Wilkinson booted England to victory in the last-four stage.

Laporte and Maso are a contrasting duo.

Many people have been surprised that they have gelled so well ever since Laporte took over the France hotseat in 1999 following defeat to Australia in the World Cup final.

Maso cuts an urbane figure while Laporte's southern French accent has often proved a challenge even for French journalists.

But they have proved a formidable pair at this World Cup successfully battling off the criticism which accompanied the opening 17-12 defeat to Argentina.

They are still going strong; the All Blacks' brains trust of Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith will be replaced by the end of the year despite having deals which run to March 2008.

Maso has proved to be Laporte's protector which was seen over comments the coach made regarding doping in the sport, which provoked a torrent of outrage from New Zealand and England especially.

"What he (Laporte) said exactly was that he knew how we (France) were organised in order to be as reassured as possible," said Maso.

"We do blood controls every week. He also said he could not speak on behalf of the southern hemisphere or the British because he doesn't know their set-ups.

"He never said he was suspicious of those particular nations."

Maso, who was a flamboyant centre in his playing days while Laporte was an efficient scrum-half, has eschewed commercial spin-offs from his position while Laporte has attracted criticism for his business dealings.

He was once accused of selling French team shirts for more than the usual price on his website, although his agent claimed that it was his idea and not his client's.

But all that will be forgotten if the odd couple manage to guide France to a first ever World Cup win in the final on October 20 in Paris. 

AFP

Subject: French news

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