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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 18:52 GMT

Sport: Rugby Union

Skrela steps down as French coach

France lit up the World Cup by defeating the All Blacks

Jean-Claude Skrela has resigned as coach of France, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced on Tuesday.

A statement by the former international flanker said he had "decided not seek renewal of the contract that made him the trainer of the France XV four years ago".

Skrela - coach since he took over from Pierre Berbizier in 1995 - reportedly told the FFR of his decision to stand down at the beginning of the World Cup.

A formal announcement of the decision is expected at the end of the week.

Despite France's historic 43-31 victory over the All Blacks in their World Cup semi-final at Twickenham, Skrela was heavily criticised for his team's lacklustre performance in the early part of the tournament.

The French went on to lose the 6 November final to 35-12 Australia - the largest margin of any of the four tournaments to date.

He played 46 times for France as a back row forward, culminating in a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1977. He went on to coach the national side to two successive Grand Slams in 1997 and 1998, before France slumped to the wooden spoon in 1999.

Bernard Laporte, who coached Stade Francais to the 1998 national championship, is favourite to take over at the helm.

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Rugby Union Contents

In this section

Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

European Cup starts with a bang

Cooke blasts RFU 'puppets'

The wizards of Oz

Aussies given Jones-Hughes ultimatum

Woodward stays in England role

Skrela steps down as French coach

Gloucester face west-country clash

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Countdown to Europe

Lomu staying with All Blacks

Bath embarrass Newcastle

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Rugby chiefs opt for fresh start

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Sarries swat Wasps to go top

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Quins steal Irish thunder

Horan named top World Cup player

Bedford go down fighting