The verdict fell shortly after noon on Thursday. The clubs, whose participation rate exceeded 90%, voted 51.06% against the appointment of Vice-President Patrick Buisson as Deputy President of the French Federation, replacing Bernard Laporte, forced to stand set back after his conviction at first instance for corruption and influence peddling on December 13 by the Paris court (he appealed in the process). This is a disavowal of the governance in place which reinforces the opposition, of which Jean-Marc Lhermet, former third-line international and former director of Clermont, is a member, in his call to organize general elections as soon as possible.
How do you welcome this result?
JEAN-MARC LHERMET. For us, it is a success. This election is legitimate because there was more than 90% participation. This result supports our position. When you vote against Patrick Buisson, you vote against a system. This is the first step. This verdict puts the steering committee of the FFR before its responsibilities.
Precisely, it meets this Friday morning, what do you expect?
We built our campaign on a call for general elections in the event of a no vote in the referendum. It is the best solution to erase everything, to sweep away the dark side of the business which is multiplying and to have a legitimate Federation when approaching the World Cup in France. It’s time to take responsibility. You have to go fast. We can organize elections in six weeks.
The steering committee may decide to propose another candidate to the clubs…
Yes. Legally it is possible. We are in a situation that is outside the statutes. So theoretically, proposing another candidate is possible but it would be irresponsible. It would only push back the verdict and it would add instability, business to business. We’re only talking about that right now. Laporte, Simon, the GIP… Stop! We must whistle the end of recess. This is the message sent by the clubs.
Is the presence of the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra Friday morning at the steering committee important for you?
Yes. The fact that she has invited herself means that she will be there for everyone to draw conclusions from this vote, for people to act responsibly.
The current governance suggests that it is difficult to organize elections in less than six months and that they would be held in full preparation for the World Cup…
These are bogus excuses. An election can be organized in six weeks, thanks to electronic voting. It is not much more complicated than organizing a referendum. You just have to want it.
The result was tight despite the cases affecting Bernard Laporte and his team…
It is democracy. When Bernard Laporte decided to propose Patrick Buisson to the vote of the clubs, there was never any question of a large majority or not. There were more than 50% of votes for no, so it is rejected. We’re not here to measure whether that’s a lot or not.
Could new elections disrupt the smooth running of the XV of France less than eight months from the World Cup?
Do not mix everything up. The Blues are committed to their mission. They are there to win the World Cup. I’ve played at a high level, whether for a club or for the France team, and when we’re set on a goal, there can be an earthquake nearby, we don’t feel it, it doesn’t bother us. The only thing is that we have to move quickly to prevent the entire ecosystem of French rugby, clubs, partners, supporters, etc., from being disrupted. This is why we are asking to organize the elections in six weeks. I don’t see how we can not turn the page today. There are cases in progress, others may arise. We must say stop to all this.