Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby world shocked by sud­den death of French ‘en­ter­tainer’

- Sports · Rugby · French National Assembly · Paris Saint-Germain FC · Paris · England · England national football team · Ireland · France · France national football team · New Zealand · Twickenham · Fabien Galthié · New Zealand national rugby union team · French Rugby Federation · RC Toulonnais · Twitter · World Rugby · Rugby World Cup · Jonny Wilkinson · Christophe Dominici · Toulon · Vincent Clerc

The death of Christophe­do­minici, the speedy and charis­matic winger who lit up French rugby at the turn of the cen­tury, was keenly felt in the world of sport and be­yond.

It even touched politics, with emo­tional-sound­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Jean-michel Blan­quer an­nounc­ing Do­minici’s death at the Na­tional As­sem­bly in Paris, prompt­ing politi­cians to im­me­di­ately stand and ap­plaud the beloved for­mer player. Do­minici died yes­ter­day. He was 48. He had suf­fered from pe­ri­ods of deep de­pres­sion in re­cent years.

Eng­land’s World Cup-win­ning first five Jonny Wilkin­son and Ire­land great Brian O’driscoll were among those who paid tribute to the tryscor­ing winger, whose elec­tri­fy­ing pace and flair had fans on the edge of their seats and flus­tered op­po­nents of­ten chas­ing shad­ows.

“It is with great sad­ness and pro­found heart­break that Stade Fran­cais Paris has learned of Christophe Do­minici’s death,” a state­ment from his for­mer club, Stade Fran­cais Paris, said. “A rugby ge­nius and com­pan­ion with­out equal, he will leave a great void in our big fam­ily. Our thoughts go to his fam­ily, his wife Loretta, and his daugh­ters Chiara and Mia.”

The French union said clubs in the top two di­vi­sions would pay their re­spects to Do­minici in their matches this week­end.

“His clas­sic tries helped to build French flair,” the LNR said, call­ing him “a great player who brought so much joy and tal­ent to French rugby.”

Do­minici played 67 times from France over a decade to 2007 and scored 25 tries, among them one of the most sto­ried in Rugby World Cup his­tory. Dur­ing the 1999 semi­fi­nal against favourites New Zealand at Twick­en­ham, while chas­ing a box kick from half­back Fa­bien Galthie, Do­minici caught the All Blacks by sur­prise­whenhe per­fectly judged the bounce, grabbed the ball with his right hand and tore past two de­fend­ers to score be­tween the posts. France won against the odds, 43-31.

He also played in the France team which fea­tured in an even big­ger up­set of New Zealand in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the 2007 World Cup, and won the Five Na­tions once and the Six Na­tions three times with Les Tri­col­ors.

“He left his mark on a whole gen­er­a­tion of rugby,” the French Rugby Fed­er­a­tion said. “Today the rugby fam­ily has bru­tally lost a le­gend, an em­blem­atic player.”

At club level, he won five French cham­pi­onships in a glit­ter­ing 11-year spell with Stade Fran­cais, hav­ing started his ca­reer with home­town club Toulon.

“Thanks Domi for all you gave to French rugby and all the good times I spent with you,” for­mer France winger Vin­cent Clerc said on Twit­ter.

World Rugby called him “an all­time great of the game” while the English and Ir­ish fed­er­a­tions were quick to of­fer their con­do­lences.

O’driscoll praised his for­mer op­po­nent and fel­low rugby en­ter­tainer.

“A French player full of flair with huge suc­cess through­out his ca­reer,” O’driscoll said.

Wilkin­son, who played club for Toulon late in his ca­reer, chose to pay his tribute on Twit­ter in French.

“The death of Christophe Do­minici is ter­ri­bly said,” he wrote. “We are think­ing of all of his loved ones. The whole of sport has lost a true le­gend.”

 ?? Photo / NZ Her­ald, File ?? Christophe Do­minici was 48 when he died yes­ter­day.
Photo / NZ Her­ald, File Christophe Do­minici was 48 when he died yes­ter­day.

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