It's now official, Antoine Dupont will participate in the Paris Olympics. Florian Grill. This is a good example of joint work between the Federation and the League since it was necessary to speak with Stade Toulousain. Antoine has a very rugby attitude, he doesn't want to arrive parachuted. He knows that, in a rugby team, you have to earn your place. But it's a phenomenal opportunity for rugby because he's a superb gondola head even if, unfortunately, we will have to do without him for the next Six Nations Tournament. What a great image for rugby sevens and for the country because Antoine will be an important standard bearer.
What will his program be from now on? He must play 7-a-side tournaments to earn his place. We think he has all the qualities for this. But we have a French 7s team which is already competitive. It's up to him to get used to it, to find his feet, because it's a different practice from the XV.
Isn't his absence for the Six Nations Tournament penalizing? We would definitely like to have him everywhere! But a choice had to be made. And it’s Antoine’s choice. He wants to make the Olympic Games.
Will he be accompanied by a second player from the French XV? No! We decided on this point with Jean-Marc Lhermet at least three months ago. Antoine Dupont will be the only one to join the French 7s team.
The League announced Monday that the agreement for the provision of international players was going to be renewed. The agreement was signed. We will not refrain from making adjustments, if adjustments are necessary. The most important thing is that the League and the Federation work hand in hand. Like at World Rugby, where we had some serious things to negotiate. When the Nations Cup was imagined without France, there were seven more duplicates for the French championship. This would have been lethal for the Top 14. We spoke with one voice, we made it heard and France's vote was decisive. We are lucky to have a system that works, French team rugby and club rugby, and which must be preserved. I am very happy that we are speaking with one voice. We tell each other things frankly. That's how we move rugby forward, not with arguments or little phrases.
What do you think of Bernard Laporte's return to rugby, as director of the Montpellier club? I'm not going to comment. It is not the role of a federation president to comment on the movements of club managers or coaches.
Also read: Top 14: “It’s very inspiring to see that there are several lives in that of a coach”, Mola defends Laporte’s return
Can you explain to us what happened to Raphaël Ibanez, who was manager of the XV of France? He has, from the start, a contract which provides that he intervenes, not only on the of France, on partners, on international relations. We passed the World Cup, it's simply a redistribution of time, a rebalancing. But he remains manager of the XV of France. And he will expand his role to include other responsibilities.
Isn't that an exclusion? Absolutely not.
Nor a promotion. No more. It is an evolution of its role which takes reality into account. There is a need to take care of all the French teams. There is also a need to spend time internationally, in somewhat obscure and technical commissions where France was no longer and must be more present. France no longer weighs internationally. It involves being present, through people who make our voices heard. And Raphaël speaks English particularly well…