French Rugby League elections in crisis

By Mike Rylance

The elections that will determine which direction the French Rugby League Federation takes over the next four years have been plunged into turmoil.

With the voting due to take place this coming Saturday, one of the three candidates to succeed Marc Palanques as president has been ruled ineligible. Luc Lacoste, the 54-year old businessman with little previous connection to rugby league, has been seen by some as the man most likely to bring fresh ideas into the game. Once the interim chairman of Perpignan rugby union club USAP, a fluent English speaker, he is widely connected in the business world.

The Federation, however, on the advice of a three-man panel appointed to oversee the applications, has declared that Lacoste cannot stand, claiming that his membership of the Federation – a condition of taking part – is not in order. It has not yet been stated in what respect his “licence” is irregular. Lacoste insists that there is no irregularity and has vowed to take all legal steps to reinstate his candidacy. The Federation has meanwhile published a list of all those eligible for election to the 24-man Council. It does not contain Lacoste’s name, nor those of four others, including that of Richard Frileux, a former international referee and head of the referees’ commission. He has also promised to seek judicial vindication.

The procedure before the ballot is that each person standing for president – there are three this time – draws up a list of 24 nominees who will support him and may be elected to the Federation council. In addition to Lacoste, the other candidates for president are André Janzac, who has a long involvement in rugby league and a considerable background in development, and on whose list Frileux features, and Fabienne Albert, the current secretary of Palanques’ administration, whose duty it was to sign the document declaring the ineligibility of those five would-be candidates.

The French National Olympic and Sporting Committee, which oversees sport in France, will hold arbitration talks on Monday.