Disgraced Laporte appointed director of rugby at Altrad's Montpellier

Bernard Laporte before his court hearing in December (Alain JOCARD)
Bernard Laporte before his court hearing in December (Alain JOCARD)

Controversial former French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte has been appointed director of rugby of struggling Montpellier, the Top 14 club's billionaire owner Mohed Altrad said on Saturday.

Former France head coach Laporte resigned from his FFR post in January after being found guilty of favouritism in awarding a shirt sponsorship contract for the national side to Altrad.

Laporte is appealing the ruling.

Montpellier, champions in 2022, sit bottom of the French Top 14 table after Saturday's 23-16 loss to Perpignan.

"We've decided to go and get one of the French people that knows world rugby the best," Syrian-born Altrad told newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

"Bernard Laporte has a winning culture, leadership, team spirit.

"It's all the values of rugby that we hold dear. He incarnates the spirit our team needs," he added.

In December, former sports minister Laporte was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for his financial dealings with Altrad.

He was also banned from holding any rugby post for two years, but that is suspended pending his appeal.

"I don't have a comment to make about a process that is under appeal," Altrad said.

"My state of mind is to focus on the club and rugby emergency," he added.

Laporte also resigned from his role as World Rugby vice-chairman, months before France hosted this year's Rugby World Cup.

The 59-year-old guided Les Bleus to the World Cup semi-finals in 2003 and 2007 as head coach and has club experience with the likes of Stade Francais and Toulon.

He will hope to turn things around at Montpellier working above head coach and former England front-row forward Richard Cockerill.

Their next game is hosting promoted Oyonnax on Saturday.

Laporte replaces fellow ex-France boss Philippe Saint-Andre, who remains at Montpellier to deal with the sport's authorities, Altrad said.