French rugby boss: Macron strong asset in 2023 World Cup bid

By Associated Press 07 July 2017, 12:00AM

PARIS (AP) — In its bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, France can count on President Emmanuel Macron.

The new president has thrown his support behind Paris against Los Angeles for the 2024 Olympics, and he's determined to help France win the hosting rights for the Rugby World Cup.

According to French Rugby Federation President Bernard Laporte, Macron will attend the Sept. 25 meeting where France, Ireland, and South Africa will present their bids to World Rugby. The winning bid will be announced on Nov. 15.

"The state is fully committed to the bid, the proof is that the president said he will come to the bid presentation," Laporte told The Associated Press. "He will have an active role, he will have the floor. It's clear that it adds weight to our bid. If he can transform it into gold, we will take that."

France hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and put on games in the 1991 and 1999 tournaments.

South Africa last hosted in 1995.

Ireland has never been the sole host but also staged games in 1991 and 1999.

Laporte said France's main assets are its nine modern stadiums built or renovated for last year's European soccer championship, as well as rugby's strong popularity in the country.

"We don't have anything to invest," Laporte said. "The stadiums, the roads and airports are already there. And the quality of our stadiums is going to generate a considerable economy. We sold 2.4 million tickets in 2007, we are now expecting sales up to 2.6 million."

According to Laporte, staging the tournament in France would provide about "70-80 million" euros in benefits for the FFR and generate a 900 million euro boost for the country.

"As long as you invite 500,000 people in a country, it's 500,000 visitors who are going to spend money, it can only be positive."

Laporte also insisted France has the capacity to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

"Look at Japan, they won the 2019 World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2020," Laporte said. "It would be added value, that's why we need the games, too."

Laporte added he still supports national coach Guy Noves despite the 3-0 series defeat in South Africa last month. However, he warned the squad could be restructured if France fails to win three out of its four tests in November. A difficult task given the Tricolors will be facing New Zealand twice, South Africa, and Japan.

"I never said we would remove anybody," Laporte said. "Maybe we will need to add people to the current staff or change players. But I believe we are capable of winning three out of four matches."

By Associated Press 07 July 2017, 12:00AM

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