Bay of Plenty Times
Rugby world shocked by sudden death of French ‘entertainer’
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.”