18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Monsieur Laurans is the first French Chairman in the history of the Championship. He takes over from Allan Hosie, who has been Chairman for the last five years, and who now assumes the Presidency of the Scottish Rugby Union.
Jacques Laurans played rugby for Agen, which remains his home. He captained the French-Championship-winning Under-19 Agen team. Following his playing career, he became a coach and then a rugby administrator, chairing the regional committee of Perigord/Agenais before becoming a Committee Member of the Federation Frangaise in 1991.
In 1993, he became General Secretary of the Federation, a post he held for eight years. He currently represents the Federation on both the Six Nations Committee and the Council of the IRB. He is also Treasurer of the IRB and a Director of Rugby World Cup.
Monsieur Laurans was this year honoured by the French Republic, receiving the award of Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur on the bicentennial of the creation of the award by Napoleon. He was one of two nominees for the Chairmanship of the Six Nations' Committee, the other being RFU representative, Bill Beaumont. Mr Laurans nomination was supported by France, Ireland, Italy and Scotland. Mr Beaumont's nomination was supported by England and Wales.
Laurans said, "I am honoured that I, the first Frenchman in the history of the Championship, should have been elected to the Chairmanship of this, the greatest annual rugby tournament in the world. I take over from an exceptional chairman in Allan Hosie, who has navigated the Championship skilfully through turbulent waters. I hope that I will do justice to his legacy, and I am delighted to be given the chance to serve. I am only sad that my election to the Chair was in competition with Bill Beaumont, who makes an enormous contribution to the work of this Committee, and with whom I look forward to working in the years ahead."