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Laporte promises changes to French team
February 21, 2000

French coach Bernard Laporte, smarting from Saturday's 15-9 Six Nations defeat to England, vowed on Sunday that he would make changes to the team that takes on Scotland in a fortnight's time in Edinburgh.

The 35 year old, who took over after Jean-Claude Skrela and Pierre Villepreux stepped down following the World Cup final defeat last November, also criticised the two players, Cameroon-born flanker Serge Betsen and lock Olivier Brouzet , sinbinned during the match.

'There will have to be changes, how many I don't know,' Laporte said.'If there are none , the players who are on the fringes of the team will wonder why not.Also, I don't want the players in the first team thinking they have a god-given right to retaining their places ... they are going to have to battle their way into the side.'

Laporte, who retired as a player aged just 29, made his name as a coach by pulling Stade Francais up from the third division to the championship in three years and could well wield the axe on Brouzet and Betsen, the latter lasting just 5 minutes after coming on as a replacement.

'We played 20 minutes of the second half with 14 players and that is not good enough,' added Laporte, who on taking the job declared that ill-discipline would not be tolerated.'It meant that the players on the pitch had to cover for the sinbinned player and thus got tired quicker.Betsen was cautioned twice in two minutes while Brouzet's trip was also unforgiveable.I'm not here to bite people's heads off but there are some things that are not permissible.To behave as they did is just not professional.'

Laporte, who said he would like tp put together a pool of 70 players and work on their levels of fitness, refused to criticise the English for using the controversial food supplement creatine which is sold as a legal alternative to anabolic steroids.

He also said he wanted to see French club players limited to 20 matches a season, claiming that French rugby was stuck in a time warp and faced a bleak future unless there was a radical overhaul of the domestic programme.

'I sounded the alarm about the state of the national team when we shipped 50 points against the Springboks in Paris in 1997.I think we are still at the same stage as we were then , both on a playing level and structurally.We have to go forward from here.When I see players coming off exhausted at half time it's clear that something is not right.'

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