Just over twelve months out from Rugby’s greatest showpiece, hosts France have been hit by a scandal of significant magnitude.
Fortunately for French fans it does not concern their national side but rather the tournament as a whole.
Chief organiser of the tournament Claude Atcher has been suspended from his role following allegations of bullying which has thrown the organising committee into a state of chaos.
Atcher is accused of telling a female employee that is “a dirty little idiot”. French publication L’Equipe were the first to report on the alleged bullying with up to 15 first-hand accounts from employees.
Several employees have reported having panic attacks due to being on the receiving end of verbal attacks in what has been described as a workplace that operates in “a climate of terror”.
The situation has gotten so out of hand that the French government has now intervened to uncover “alarming managerial practices” and “infringements of financial probity” during their investigation.
It is not just Atcher who is being investigated but also French Rugby President Bernard Laporte who is accused of separate corruption charge with Atcher.
Atcher will no longer be involve with the planning of the tournament as he faces the two investigations.
For their part, World Rugby have issued a strong statement condemning the alleged behaviour whilst remaining fully confident in the hosts ability to deliver the tournament.
“World Rugby was deeply concerned by the allegations made through the French media,” a statement read.
“The wellbeing of the rugby family is paramount and central to the values of unity, inclusivity and fun that epitomise Rugby World Cup, the sport’s ultimate celebration of togetherness.”