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BUENOS AIRES: French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Florian Grill ( R ) and French Rugby Federation (FFR) vice-president Jean-Marc Lhermet (L), speak with journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 9, 2024. – AFP
BUENOS AIRES: French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Florian Grill ( R ) and French Rugby Federation (FFR) vice-president Jean-Marc Lhermet (L), speak with journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 9, 2024. – AFP

France rugby players detained over alleged Argentine sex assault

BUENOS AIRES: Two members of the French national rugby team touring South America were arrested in Argentina on Monday following an allegation of sexual assault, a justice official in Mendoza province told AFP.

Hugo Auradou, 20, and Oscar Jegou, 21, who featured in France’s 28-13 Test victory over Argentina on Saturday, were detained in Buenos Aires and will be taken to Mendoza where the crime allegedly took place. “Today a commission from the province of Mendoza is travelling to Buenos Aires to bring them and proceed with doing the relevant examinations,” said Martin Ahumada, a spokesman for the Mendoza prosecutor’s office.

“If the examinations align with the testimony of the victim, the related charge will be made,” he told AFP. According to local media reports, the alleged attack took place at the Diplomatic Hotel in Mendoza, where France’s players and staff were staying for last weekend’s Test match.

Local prosecutors requested the immediate arrest of the two players following the allegation. France are due to travel to Montevideo on Tuesday where they face Uruguay on Wednesday. The team is then due to return to Buenos Aires for a second Test against Argentina on Saturday.

“If the facts are proven, they are incredibly serious. You must spare a thought for the young woman,” said French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Florian Grill. “It’s the opposite of everything that rugby is, of everything that rugby does, of everything that rugby builds... But you must let the investigation, which is necessary, take place,” he told journalists.

Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French sports minister, wrote on X: “If the investigation establishes the facts, they constitute a nameless atrocity. Our thoughts are with the victim.” Both players were in the France side that won last year’s Under-20 World Cup in South Africa. Lock forward Auradou, whose father David Auradou also played for France, enjoyed a breakthrough season this year, making 20 Top 14 appearances for Pau.

La Rochelle flanker Jegou, meanwhile, was suspended last autumn by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) following a positive test for cocaine. He explained that he had taken the substance at a party. Both clubs issued statements saying they would not comment until “more precise information” is available and “initial conclusions” of the investigation have been reached.

Player in racism scandal

The arrests come a day after a racism scandal that led to France fullback Melvyn Jaminet being thrown out of the squad in Argentina. Jaminet was removed after video of him making racist comments emerged on social media. Toulon’s Jaminet played seven minutes and kicked a penalty in France’s first Test win over the Pumas on Saturday.

The FFR condemned his video comments as “totally unacceptable and against the fundamental values of our sport.” Oudea-Castera praised the “rapid and appropriate response to the fear sparked” by the player’s remarks. Jaminet subsequently apologized for his remarks after being removed from the squad.

“I am deeply sorry and ashamed of my comments,” Jaminet said on Instagram. “Racism, in all its forms, is unacceptable and goes against everything I believe in. “I understand the FFR’s punishment and remain at their disposition to be able to shine a light on this incident.” — AFP

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