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Bernard Laporte (born 1 July, 1964 in Rodezmarker, Aveyronmarker) is the current French Secretary of State for Sport. Previously he was head coach of the France national rugby union team, taking over in 1999. He was previously the coach at Stade Français. He was the first fully professional head coach of France.

He played rugby union at scrum-half and won the French Under-21 championship with UA Gaillac in 1983 and then again in 1984, in which he was captain. Seven years later he captained Begles-Bordeaux to the French championship.

Laporte's first coaching role was in the early 1990s, when he was assistant coach of the Stade Bordelais University club between 1993 and 1995. He took over at Stade Français in 1995, who were in the third division at the time. He took them right up to the first division in three seasons, winning the respective championships. The club were crowned champions of France in 1998, when they defeated USA Perpignan 34 to seven at Stade de Francemarker.

Laporte took over as head coach of the national team at the end of 1999. His first task was the 2000 Six Nations Championship, the first of its format, since the addition of Italy. Laporte drew on the experience of the 1999 Rugby World Cup, where France had been losing finalists (to Australia). Laporte named Fabien Pelous as captain. In France's first game under Laporte, they defeated Wales 36 to three. France ended up winning three of their five matches which saw them finish second, behind winners England.

The following season, France fell to fifth place in the 2001 Six Nations Championship, winning only two of their five matches; against Scotland and Italy. However, the following year, Laporte took France to victory in the 2002 Six Nations Championship - not only winning the tournament, but completing a grand slam.

After the massive success at the 2002 Six Nations, France fell to third place in the subsequent tournament, though they still won three of their five matches. France finished top of their pool at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia winning all four of their pool matches. France then defeated Ireland 43 to 21 in the quarter finals to move into the semi-finals. They were defeated by England, 24 points to seven in the semi-final and moved on to the third/fourth place play-off, which they lost to the All Blacks, and thus finished fourth at the World Cup.

After the strong showing at the World Cup, France reproduced their Six Nations success of 2002 at the 2004 Six Nations Championship. France won all five of their matches to win the tournament and complete another grand slam. France finished second, behind Wales in the 2005 Six Nations Championship, and the following year at the 2006 tournament, France won again, getting their third Six Nations trophy under Laporte.

After eight years in charge of the French national team, he resigned as coach following the 2007 Rugby World Cup. In his final Six Nations Championship in charge of France, his team won four out of their five games and emerged champions after edging out Ireland on points difference.

It was announced on June 19, 2007, that after the Rugby World Cup in October, Laporte will be named Secretary of State for Youth and Sports in the government of François Fillon. He was appointed on October 22, 2007 as Secretary of State for Sports only.

Trivia

He participates in a programme of RMC-Info each Friday, Direct Laporte.

References

  1. 'Stunned' Laporte praises his champions - Rugby Union News - Telegraph


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