Laporte completes first Top14 day with Toulon

Former France coach Bernard Laporte took control of his first training session as the new manager of Top 14 side Toulon on Monday.

Laporte has replaced Philippe Saint-Andre who has left Toulon to coach France once Marc Lievremont’s team finish the Rugby World Cup.

Laporte watched the players go through their paces along with one of his assistants Pierre Mignoni, after kicking off the session with a video demonstration.

“We have begun to sketch together what we want,” Laporte told reporters.

“We’re getting down to business but I’m still learning, I still have to ask ‘who is this’ and ‘who is that’.

“There is pleasure, a desire to share my experience and knowledge with Pierre (Mignoni) and Olivier (Azam, another assistant). I haven’t done this for four years so it’s not a morning like any other.”

Laporte, who coached France from 1999-2007, has accepted a two-year deal to manage the big-spending side. He was French sports minister from October 2007 to June 2009.

Before that Laporte spent the bulk of his playing career with Bordeaux-Begles and coached the side for two seasons before moving to Stade Francais (1995-1999).

“I’m not going to revolutionise the club but I have high level requirements,” Laporte insisted.

“It’s a good team, I worked on recruitment. We can’t be satisfied with recent results. We’re going to work hard to take on Stade Francais on Saturday.

Club owner Mourad Boudjellal has high hopes for Laporte.

“Bernard is going to inject energy and know-how, I’ve entire confdience in him,” he said.

“He took several other paths, notably politics and now he’s returning to something that he does best. He simply forgot that he was a great coach – now he’s going to remember that again.

“There is a lot of work to do at the club, I’m expecting much of the team. Without being disparaging Philippe (Saint-Andre) was consensual, participative, Bernard is more direct and that suits me better,” added Boudjellal, whose relationship with Saint-Andre deteriorated after his nomination as France coach.

After their win over Bordeaux-Begles on Friday, Toulon are sixth, seven points behind Clermont.

During his eight-year spell with ‘Les Bleus’ Laporte won the Six Nations championship four times, in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007, two of which, in 2002 and 2004, were Grand Slams.

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