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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
French fury at World Cup bid
French rugby union chief Bernard Lapasset has condemned England's 2007 Rugby World Cup bid as the battle for host status hots up.

Lapasset declared himself "strongly opposed" to the English plan to introduce a two-tier structure to the tournament.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) proposes running a 16-team main competition with a second division Nations Cup for 32 minor countries running alongside.

France's bid, to be unveiled publicly next week, is believed to stick largely to the existing format.

Lapasset said on Tuesday: "I'm not against the English proposal because it comes from the RFU and is competing with our own bid but because it's against the International Rugby Board (IRB) policy of opening our sport to the world.

It looks attractive but it's pure demagogy
Bernard Lapasset

The Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) chairman believes a tournament remodelled to England's design could only ever be staged in a handful of countries.

"It looks attractive but it's pure demagogy," he told the L'Equipe newspaper.

"Do you know of another country apart from France and England that could organise a tournament involving 48 teams and 54 stadiums?

"Even Australia couldn't manage it. Does it mean that from now on the World Cup will belong to England and France?

"I think that would be wrong and I would like Argentina or the Celtic countries to be able to stage the World Cup."

More traditional

Details of the French plan will be revealed on 30 October.

The FFR bid is understood to be based on France's staging of the 1998 football World Cup and is more traditional than its RFU rival.

It maintains the current 20-team structure and would be staged in September and October.

The RFU would like to hold the tournament in June and July.

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