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France's new PM: tough-talking and popular

France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls is the most popular Socialist politician in the country, or at least he is with almost everyone except a sizeable chunk of his own party. As approval ratings plummeted for the rest of France's Socialist government over the course of its first two years in office, the good-looking interior minister was almost alone in defying the trend.

France's new PM: tough-talking and popular

He has feuded with fellow ministers and is regularly brushed with controversy, but France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls is one of the country's most popular politicians. As approval ratings plummeted for the rest of France's Socialist government over the course of its first two years in office, the good-looking interior minister was almost alone in defying the trend.

Kerviel: 'ordinary' guy behind France's record rogue trade

Jerome Kerviel, who lost his appeal Wednesday against a three-year jail term for his part in France's biggest rogue-trading scandal, casts himself as a simple soul caught up in an orgy of greed. The 37-year-old was convicted of forgery and breach of trust for gambling away nearly five billion euros ($7 billion) in risky deals as a star trader at Societe Generale, one of Europe's biggest banks. But in Wednesday's ruling, a top French appeals court cancelled the 4.9-billion-euros he had been ordered to pay back, referring the issue to another court.

Kerviel: 'ordinary' guy behind France's record rogue trade

Jerome Kerviel, who lost his appeal Wednesday against a three-year jail term for his part in France's biggest rogue-trading scandal, casts himself as a simple soul caught up in an orgy of greed. The 37-year-old was convicted of forgery and breach of trust for gambling away nearly five billion euros ($7 billion) in risky deals as a star trader at Societe Generale, one of Europe's biggest banks. But in Wednesday's ruling, a top French appeals court cancelled the 4.9-billion-euros he had been ordered to pay back, referring the issue to another court.

French government left scarred by battle of Nantes

France's prime minister on Monday moved to heal tensions within the Socialist-Green government coalition which surfaced following a violent weekend protest over a new airport he has championed. The Socialist premier, Jean-Marc Ayrault, had on Sunday accused leaders of the Green EELV party of adopting an ambiguous stance towards clashes which devastated the centre of the Atlantic port of Nantes on Saturday evening.

RugbyU: Wilkinson celebrates 100th Top 14 appearance in style

English rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson celebrated his 100th match in the Top 14 in suitable fashion on Sunday as he kicked all of European champion Toulon's points as they secured a 15-9 win at relegation-threatened Bayonne. The 34-year-old landed four penalties and one drop goal to give Toulon only their second away win in eight away matches this campaign and consolidated their place in the top six places for the post season-play-offs -- they are five points ahead of seventh placed Toulouse.

Former French president Chirac in hospital with suspected gout

Jacques Chirac, who has been in poor health for several years, was hospitalised Monday near Paris for a suspected flare of gout, sources close to the former French president said. An AFP reporter saw an ambulance and police motorbikes in front of the 81-year-old former president's home at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT). He was later checked into the American Hospital of Paris in the plush suburb of Neuilly, a government source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Former French president Chirac hospitalised: government source

Former French President Jacques Chirac, who has been in poor health for several years, was hospitalised Monday near Paris, a source close to the government told AFP. An AFP reporter saw an ambulance and police motorbikes in front of the 81-year-old former president's home at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT). He was checked into the American Hospital of Paris in the plush suburb of Neuilly but the source would not provide any details on Chirac's health. sm/jmm/dh

RugbyU: Kockott in change of mind over Toulon move

French champions Castres' South African kicker Rory Kockott told Canal Plus on Saturday he had changed his mind over a move to European champions Toulon and wished to remain at his present club. The 27-year-old -- the Top14 player of last season after finishing leading points scorer -- said that despite signing a pre-contract with Toulon he had decided it was a move not in the best interests of him or his family. What added spice to the remarks was that they came minutes before he took to the pitch in the Top14 clash away with Toulon.

Football: Nice defeat leaves Lille hanging on to Champions spot

Lille were left hanging on to a Champions League place by a single point following their 1-0 defeat at Nice on Sunday. Saint-Etienne's 3-0 success over struggling Valenciennes on Saturday put the pressure on Lille but the 2011 champions failed to respond. Former Paris Saint-Germain forward Mathieu Bodmer scored the only goal with a cute back-heel in first half stoppage time, although there was a suspicion of offside.
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