Organizers of this year’s Rugby World Cup in France said on Thursday they wanted to put the tournament back on an even keel after it was rocked again as former general manager Claude Atcher faces fresh accusations. Atcher was removed from his position in October after being suspended by France’s sports minister two months earlier due to alarming managerial practices.
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Newspaper L’Equipe claimed on Thursday the 67-year-old was the subject of allegations of psychological harassment in the workplace. Atcher was replaced by his deputy Julien Colette after stepping aside from the role. The priority of the new governance is to secure the organization of the tournament by mobilizing the necessary means for the delivery of an event to the best standards, organizers told AFP on Thursday.
It is the latest in a line of scandals to rock the competition and the sport in the country, which is one of the strongest at international and domestic levels in the world. In December, French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte offered to step down from his position as he faces a suspended two-year jail sentence for corruption. Former national team head coach and ex-sports minister Laporte decided to resign from his role as World Rugby vice-chairman following the decision, which he is appealing.
Last month, former Les Bleus forwarded Sebastian Chabal denied any wrongdoing following allegations he had obtained more than a hundred tickets for the World Cup thanks to his work as a competition ambassador. Sports daily L’Equipe also claimed there were worries about the finances of the competition, which begins on September 8. A source close to France’s sports minister, Amelie Oudea-Castera, told AFP there was confidence in the new governing team.
“We remain vigilant, alongside the FFR and World Rugby, and very attentive concerning the operational deadlines until the delivery date of the event,” they supposed.
“It will allow a positive result at the level of the best World Cups, which will then be redistributed to French rugby,” they said.
World Cup organizers said they had planned to publish a new budget by the end of spring. France’s next game is on February 5 as they begin the defence of their Six Nations title with a trip to Italy.
Eight New Faces Named in France Rugby World Cup Squad
Fabien Galthie has called on eight uncapped players in his France squad as they look to defend the Guinness Six Nations title, they won in such style a year ago. Les Bleus claimed a first Grand Slam in 12 years and will now look to back that up after a calendar year in which they won all ten matches they played.
Galthié has had to contend with several injuries, including Cameron Woki, who was ruled out with a wrist injury. Hooker Peato Mauvaka, the only player to have featured in each game of France’s current 13-match winning streak, is another who is absent, as are scrum-halves Maxime Lucu and Baptiste Couilloud and centre Jonathan Danty. Worldwide Tickets and Hospitality offers Rugby World Cup tickets for the France Rugby World Cup 2023 at the best prices. Rugby fans can buy France Rugby World Cup Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.
And most of the new faces are in the backline, including a pair of 19-year-olds who could be in line for their first caps. Emilien Gailleton (below, right) captained France Under-20s in 2022 and is currently the second top try-scorer in the Top 14 for Pau. The centre is joined by fellow teenager Louis Bielle-Biarrey, the Bordeaux-Begles winger or full-back. However, it is at scrumhalf where there is most likely to be a first cap, with Montpellier’s Léo Coly and Racing 92’s Nolann Le Garrec battling it out to back up skipper Antoine Dupont.
The other uncapped players in the squad are flanker Paul Boudehent, centre Julien Delbouis and back three players Romain Buros and Ethan Dumortier, the top try-scorer in the Top 14. While the injury list is extensive, Galthié is still able to call on most players who led France to the Grand Slam last season, with François Cros, Uini Atonio, and Damian Penaud all expected to be fit by the time the Championship kicks off France opens their campaign away in Italy on February 5. France will prepare for the Guinness Six Nations with a training camp in Capbreton in the Landes region.
France Rugby World Cup squad for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations
Forwards: Dany Priso (Toulon), Reda Wardi (La Rochelle), Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Mohamed Haouas (Montpellier), Sipili Falatea (Bordeaux-Begles), Gaetan Barlot (Castres), Teddy Baubigny (Toulon), Bastien Chalureau (Montpellier), Julien Marchand (Toulouse), Thibaud Flament (Toulouse), Romain Taofifenua (Lyon), Thomas Lavault (La Rochelle), Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle), Paul Willemse (Montpellier), Thomas Jolmes (Bordeaux-Begles), Alexandre Becognee (Montpellier), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), François Cros (Toulouse), Anthony Jelonch (Toulouse), Sekou Macalou (Stade francais), Yacouba Camara (Montpellier), Paul Boudehent (La Rochelle), Charles Ollivon (Toulon)
Backs: Nolann Le Garrec (Racing 92), Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Antoine Hastoy (La Rochelle), Matthieu Jalibert (Bordeaux-Begles), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Julien Delbouis (Stade francais), Leo Coly (Montpellier), Emilien Gailleton (Pau), Gael Fickou (Racing 92), Yoram Moefana (Bordeaux-Begles), Romain Buros (Bordeaux-Begles), Pierre-Louis Barassi (Toulouse), Melvyn Jaminet (Toulouse), Damian Penaud (Clermont), Matthis Lebel (Toulouse), Thomas Ramos (Toulouse), Louis Bielle-Biarrey (Bordeaux-Begles), Ethan Dumortier (Lyon).
Ex-France Rugby forward Chabal denies bending Rugby World Cup rules.
Le Parisien newspaper supposed Chabal, one of the rivalry’s official ambassadors, had been able to buy the tickets contempt rules limiting members of the Organising staff to eight per person. Yes, I helped form advantaged access to buy more Rugby World Cup tickets than it is likely to do for one person, because of my status as an ambassador for France 2023, Chabal, 45, said in a report to AFP.
I did not get any free RWC 2023 tickets or preferential prices. And no, I do not intend to profit from these RWC tickets. These Rugby World Cup tickets cannot be resold by those who benefit from them. It is just as unlikely that they can be used for commercial companies, the 62-time international added. Another former player, Henri Mioch, who won the French title on four occasions between 1977-1981, could buy over 600 RWC tickets, allowing Le Parisien.
The organization of the Rugby World Cup in France has been destroyed by scandal after the tournament’s chief organizer Claude Atcher was dismissed in October for abusing his position. France’s national monetary crimes prosecutor’s office is investigating possible favouritism, corruption, and influence-peddling within the organization accountable for delivering the tournament.
The acquisitions of the tickets by Chabal, who retired in 2014, and Mioch were exposed when investigators examined the organizers’ offices in November last year. A source close to the study told AFP: Questions have been elevated about the hypothesis of ticket re-selling, but nothing has been recognized at this stage.
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