France rugby boss tones down rhetoric ahead of winning RWC 2023 bid announcement
Paris - After succumbing to bouts of bitter bickering and toy tossing‚ France’s rugby strong man and key figure in their bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup has toned down his rhetoric.
On the eve of Wednesday afternoon's announcement in London of the host country for the event‚ Bernard Laporte‚ the French Rugby Federation’s president‚ took a more conciliatory approach.
He now recognises that fellow bid countries Ireland‚ and World Rugby’s preferred choice to host the event South Africa‚ possess qualities that would make them fine host countries.
“One must be wary of Ireland‚ in the end‚ and not underestimate them.
"What is the main lesson of the World Rugby recommendation?
"That the three countries‚ South Africa‚ France and Ireland are able to organise a beautiful World Cup.
"The recommendations especially made everyone embarrassed‚ even if there was no string or political manipulation‚” ‚" Laporte conceded in Midi-Olympique‚ which is quite a climb down from the invective he hurled at South Africa after the preferred host country was named at the start of the month.
Earlier this month Laporte accused World Rugby of negligence and amateurism when they announced their preferred host country.
“What bothers me primarily is that the process was misguided and flawed. In the end 80 percent of the report was made up by World Rugby employees‚” Laporte vented in Le Figaro
Laporte’s softer tone this week may have to do with the potential fall-out in these parts should France fail to get host country status.
As a former test player‚ coach and State secretary for sport (Sports Minister) he is all too aware of the reputational damage he is likely to suffer should France lose out.
After promising to deliver the World Cup‚ defeat for him will be deeply personal.
Players‚ however‚ have taken a more wistful look at the event and what it might offer their respective countries.
“It would be amazing if the Rugby World Cup came back to South Africa‚” enthused Handre Pollard.
“We know what it meant in 1995‚ it was very clear and it was amazing for us as a country not just for rugby but our people as well.
“I think it will create a lot of opportunities again.
"It will give the people something to look forward to.
"We’ve had a couple of tough years with our rugby in South Africa. We love our rugby. It is part of our DNA.
"It’s who we are‚ so getting the RWC would be special. It will be great‚” said Pollard.
Ireland’s towering 2.1m lock Devin Toner is hoping his country’s beating of the Springboks last weekend will help swing delegates when they cast their 39 votes today.
He concurred Ireland’s performance against the Springboks was a last opportunity to put his country front and centre in World Rugby’s shop window.
“I think there is a big chance‚ yeah. I think they should vote with their heads and vote for Ireland.”