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Monday, 22 November, 1999, 15:30 GMT
Laporte gets France job
French rugby needs restructuring at the highest level

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) has installed Bernard Laporte as the new coach of France, following the departure of Jean-Claude Skrela.

Laporte was hotly tipped to succeed the man who took France to the 1999 World Cup final against Australia in Cardiff.

Bernard Laporte: Career record
1991 - Captains Begles-Bordeaux to French championship
1995 - Joins Stade Francais as manager
1998 - Stade Francais win French championship
1999 - Stade win French Cup
The bespectacled 35-year-old is an exciting prospect for French rugby fans, having guided Stade Francais from a relatively mediocre standing to the 1998 national championship.

"I'm very happy today, but I know the task ahead is not easy," Laporte told Stade 2 television.

"When I got up this morning I knew my life had changed."

Despite the strong French showing in the World Cup, where they defeated favourites New Zealand 43-31 in the semi-finals, it is widely acknowledged that the game in France is in desperate need of restructuring at the highest levels.

Laporte's term in the job will last four years and take him up to the 2003 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

FFR president Bernard Lapasset said: "Four years is a short time but requires a lot of preparation and we had to make a quick decision. The France team is a priority for the federation."

Meanwhile, Italy have appointed former All Black prop and Fiji coach Brad Johnstone national coach on a two-year contract.

The Italians will join the Six Nations tournament against England, France, Wales, Scotland and Ireland this season.

The Blues coach quit after a poor World Cup in which his side lost by 101-3 against New Zealand and 67-7 against England
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See also:
16 Nov 99 |  Rugby Union
Skrela steps down as French coach
06 Nov 99 |  Rugby World Cup
Aussies crowned world champions
06 Nov 99 |  Rugby World Cup
Optimistic French pick up pieces
31 Oct 99 |  Rugby World Cup
France stun All Blacks
Links to other Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.