We have it! The covert investigative report to shock the rugby world, if not the whole of sport! In early 2017, Christopher Steele was engaged to investigate European professional rugby. Using the same contacts and deep state intelligence that delivered the salacious and depressing details of the Russia-Trump collusion, Steele dug deep into the underbelly of 21st Century rugby union. His remit was to determine if professionalism had indeed led to widespread ethical transgressions.
We will release the most notable findings in parts, much as the equally shocking Pentagon Papers were published. Buckle up with some of the hard stuff nearby. You are going to need it. [Also, you know, an appreciation of satire, and the ability to discern Fake News.]
Part 2: France
Rugby fans and pundits alike were dismayed to learn Jacques Brunel initially chose to exclude scrum half Baptiste Serin from the France squad for this NatWest 6 Nations. Serin burst onto the scene last year, displaying audacious skills and virtuoso playmaking harkening back to French legends. Despite consistently showing promise in his international appearances throughout 2017, the 23-year-old Serin, who plays for Bordeaux-Bègles in the Top 14, it took the unfortunate injury to Dupont for a late call-up to be made.
Yesterday new information came to light, published in L’Equipe, that will surely scandalize the already troubled French Rugby community. French President Emmanuel Macron may personally have pressured FFR head Bernard Laporte to have Serin left off the team. According to Steele’s dossier, somehow leaked to L’Equipe, Macron’s intervention was personally motivated. The rapid emergence of Serin and the enthusiasm for his insouciance and playing flair was seen by Macron as a possible threat to his status as the most popular man in France.
Speaking on behalf of Macron, Elysée Communications Director Sibeth Ndiaye was quick to provide a categorical denouncement. “This claim is spurious and childish,” Ms. Ndiaye stated. “Anyone can see that the President has no interest in such matters. He has a country to lead, and has been focused on preventing global conflicts at this difficult time.” The written statement went further, “All of France want nothing but success for French Rugby in the upcoming NatWest 6 nations. Anyone can see that President Macron would never involve himself in these matters. While not trivial, French rugby will succeed due the leadership and decision-making of new coach Jacques Brunel, backed by the whole of the FFR and Bernard Laporte.”
The report has spread at light speed, setting tongues wagging in sporting circles nationwide just two days before France travel to Scotland for their second test. Brunel laughed off suggestions the allegation had any merit, instead highlighting the depth of talent at scrum half. “At this moment, France have many talented scrum halves playing outstanding rugby. Selection is always based on merit and nothing else. I’ll say no more.” Laporte, already under fire after recent police raids of his home and FFR headquarters, could not be reached for comment.
For his part, Serin shrugged off any suggestion he had been unfairly targeted by Macron. “C’est la vie,” he quipped, as he flicked his head and flipped a ball behind his back and into the hands of a teammate. “Who finishes is more important than who starts.”