the court ruled that Laporte had showed "favouritism" in choosing France's shirt sponsor

Bernard Laporte gets two-year suspended prison sentence

Bernard Laporte, president of the French Rugby Federation and vice-chairman of World Rugby, has been given a two-year suspended prison sentence and has been banned from holding rugby posts for two years, pending appeal. This has happened just nine months out from France hosting the Rugby World Cup.

Laporte was found guilty of corruption charges, with one pertaining to a shirt sponsorship deal with the Altrad group, for the France national team. The deal amounted to €1.8 million (approx. £1.5 million), and Mohed Altrad – who owns Montpellier and whose group also sponsors the All Blacks – has also been caught up in this.

Altrad was given an 18-month suspended sentence and €50,000 fine (£42,800). Both deny any wrongdoing and Altrad’s lawyers will study the decision before considering an appeal.

The court found that Laporte agreed in 2017 to appear in Altrad group conferences and was paid €180k (approx £154k) for reproducing his image rights. The following month the FFR agreed the deal for Altrad to become the first shirt sponsor of the national team. In 2018, a follow-up deal was agreed.

World Rugby’s executive committee will convene on Tuesday evening to consider if Laporte is fit to hold office with them.

In a statement, the governing body said: “World Rugby notes the decision of the French court to sentence FFR president and World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte on corruption charges, which relate to domestic matters. The World Rugby executive committee will meet tonight to determine the next steps in accordance with the international federation’s Integrity Code.”

In August, Laporte was named ‘Most Influential Person in Rugby’ by Rugby World due to the power he wielded within the sport. As one source puts it: “Bernard gets things done. He’s moody, he’s not a man who’d go for a pint with you, he’s always got somewhere to be, but he’s majorly influential.”

With 2023 a major year for rugby in France, there will be much more to come on this story.

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