Tributes pour in for ex-France winger Dominici

Former France rugby player Christophe Dominici, seen in this 2006 file photo, was found dead in a Paris park on Tuesday.
Former France rugby player Christophe Dominici, seen in this 2006 file photo, was found dead in a Paris park on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Former France rugby star Christophe Dominici, whose dazzling runs made him one of the country's best wingers, has died at the age of 48, his former club Stade Francais said on Tuesday.

"It is with immense sadness that Stade Francais learns of the death of Christophe Dominici," a statement read.

He won 67 caps for France between 1998 and 2007, scoring a memorable try in their stunning 43-31 semi-final win over New Zealand in the 1999 World Cup, eliminating the All Blacks, then led by the late great Jonah Lomu.

Local police said the diminutive Dominici, who was only 1.72m, was seen by a witness jumping from a disused building in Parc de Saint-Cloud and prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the cause of his death.

In his 2007 autobiography, Dominici admitted that he had suffered severe bouts of depression following a personal loss and that he had been a victim of child abuse.

In recent years, he had worked as a pundit for French radio and TV and was also in the public eye this summer when he fronted a United Arab Emirates-based bid to take over Beziers rugby club.

The offer, however, petered out when a financial investigation was made into its efficacy and, according to the BBC, he "was said by friends to have taken the failure very badly".

Dominici won five French national titles with Stade Francais and four Six Nations titles with Les Bleus, including two Grand Slams in 1998 and 2004, and the French rugby fraternity was in mourning upon hearing of his death.

"So much sadness. Christophe Dominici was an immense player, an artist... His sudden death is a shock," French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said.

"I'm devastated. With his crappy physique, he beat all the best defences in the world. It really sucks to lose him at 48," ex-France teammate Sylvain Marconnet added.

The French National Rugby League, which oversees professional rugby in the country, said it was saddened by the death of a player who brought joy to the French people.

Condolences poured in from elsewhere. New Zealand Rugby called him "small in stature but a titan on the field" in a tweet, with the Welsh union saying: "Adieu, Christophe Dominici... what a player." England Rugby called it "an incredibly sad time".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2020, with the headline 'Tributes pour in for ex-France winger Dominici'. Subscribe