Laporte demands discipline not flair
February 1, 2000
France's rugby coach Bernard Laporte looked towards his first test as boss of the World Cup finalists on Tuesday, Saturday's Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff, and suggested that his regime would be more about discipline and scrum play than their renowned running game.
The 35-year-old, who replaced the outgoing Jean-Claude Skrela last November after Skrela retired following a successful run of two Grand Slams and the loss to Australia in the World Cup final, added that he preferred hard work to occasional flashes of individual inspiration.
"The scrum is going to gain in importance with the introduction of the new rules," Laporte said.
"A good scrum will give that team an advantage and will allow them to orchestrate the game," added the former scrum-half, who was forced to retire becasue of injury aged just 29.
Laporte, who made his name with Stade Francais raising them within three years from a third division side being watched by six spectators to champions, claimed that he wasn't interested in players who had other interests outside of rugby.
"There is no distinctive Laporte style of play but I insist on each member of the team not shirking his repsonsibility and putting in hard tackles because that is the way the rest of the world plays," said Laporte, who was never capped by France but as a combative scrum-half inspired Begles Bordeaux to the 1991 championship.
"Also I absolutely insist on iron discipline and that the players apply themselves 150 percent.
"I want every one of them to talk about rugby the whole time and nothing else," he added.
Laporte, who has stripped Raphael Ibanez of the captaincy and replaced him with grizzly lock Fabien Pelous, said that he would not stand for the French playing dirty - accusations that were levelled at them after they stunned the All Blacks in the World Cup semi-final.
"We are in the shop window and have to sell our sport to the young," he said.
"I am not interested in a victorious French team that plays dirty. The French team must inspire young boys to play the game and they need idols to encourage them to do that," he added.
Laporte, who said that no-one should feel he had a divine right to a place in the starting line-up and that he would not hesitate to replace them with players from the French A team, denied that he was already fashioning a team for the 2003 World Cup.
"I haven't even given it a moment's thought as it's too far away at the moment," he said.
"In any case I may not last that long!" he added.
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Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September