Bernard Laporte defied French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra's demands for him to resign ©Getty Images

Despite a meeting with Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, French Rugby Federation (FFR) President Bernard Laporte has held firm to only step down temporarily regardless of her demands for him to vacate the role completely as the criminal investigation into his corruption charges takes place.

The pair met to discuss his position where Oudéa-Castéra insisted that his full withdrawal from the FFR was essential for the effectiveness of the investigation so that a fair decision can be made.

However, Laporte agreed only to step down as President on a temporary basis as he feels a permanent resignation would look like he was admitting guilt for a case in which he still pleads his innocence.

Oudéa-Castéra has conceded but says that the replacement must be subject to a democratic process and validated by stakeholders.

"The minister expressed to Bernard Laporte that, without prejudice to the responses of the ethics committee, the withdrawal occurring until the final criminal decision must imperatively be accompanied by all the guarantees necessary for its effectiveness and that the choice of a delegated president had in any case to be the subject of a democratic validation by the clubs, according to an irreproachable process and a precise and fast calendar," read a statement from the Ministry of Sport.

Laporte was given a two-year suspended prison sentence on December 13 after being convicted of corruption, bribery, and influence peddling, a €75,000 (£64,300/$79,800) fine and a two-year ban from any rugby-related operations.

Prior to the meeting he had protested his innocence and has vowed to appeal.

Oudéa-Castéra is set to ratify the election of the replacement in early January following a meeting with the FFR's 40-member Steering Committee.

Laporte is said to be open to the process which will see clubs vote on an Acting President.

French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra could not convince Bernard Laporte to permanently step down as FFR President and has begun the process to find a temporary replacement ©Getty Images
French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra could not convince Bernard Laporte to permanently step down as FFR President and has begun the process to find a temporary replacement ©Getty Images

The timeframe is so short as France is due to stage the Rugby World Cup next year for the second time as the sole host, following the 2007 edition, from September 8 to October 28.

In 1991, it co-hosted the tournament alongside England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

A trio of contenders have emerged to replace Laporte.

FFR vice-president Serge Simon is seen as the natural successor due to his existing experience with the organisation, having served in the role since 2016.

He was acquitted from charges of illegally taking interest and was already being lined up as the replacement when Laporte, who is World Rugby's vice-chairman, was expected to campaign for the global governing body's Presidency.

Rugby Europe vice-president Christian Dullin has also been touted as a possible stand-in.

He has been a member of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee since 2017 and heads the Recovery Plan, Ethics and Doping department of the organisation.

Finally, Patrick Buisson is tipped for the vacancy as he has been with the Federation for 15 years and serves as the vice-president in charge of amateur rugby.

Official elections are set to take place in 2024, the same year that Paris is hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Buisson is considered a safe pick until then.

Laporte's charges centred around a contract to his friend Mohed Altrad's eponymous business.

It saw the eponymous construction company became the first-ever sponsor to appear on the French national team's shirts following a €1.8 million (£1.5 million/$1.8 million) deal in 2017.