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Rugby: Laporte set to stay France coach

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) – Bernard Laporte was set to continue as France coach to the 2007 Rugby World Cup, according to former Test star and French League president Serge Blanco.

But Blanco, who runs the top 16 clubs, has set a number of conditions. He wants a selection committee to be re-established and has called on Laporte to meet club coaches at least twice a year.

“I am not bothered whether he is the former and perhaps the future coach of the France team, I just wish he would stop criticising his peers when things aren’t going well,” said Blanco. “Stop saying it’s always the fault of the league and the clubs.”

Blanco was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday where he launched a plan to improve relations between the clubs and the national team.

Laporte blamed the clubs for failing to invest in youth academies after France were beaten by England in the World Cup semi-finals.

Blanco says Laporte was to blame for not working with the National Coaching Programme headed by former assistant coach Pierre Villepreux.

“We don’t want a war (with the national team), we just want to exist,” said Blanco of the clubs. “We have been working on this plan since September, in other words since before the World Cup.”

The 39-year-old Laporte was expected to be given a new contract running to 2007 by French Rugby Federation president Bernard Lapasset’s management committee on Friday.

Laporte’s record since taking over from Jean-Claude Skrela and Villepreux in November 1999 – after they had lost to Australia in the World Cup final – reads: played 48, won 28, lost 19, drawn one, with the highlight being the 2002 Six Nations Grand Slam.

 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news