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Montpellier statement: Court date for title celebration bar fight

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Sylvain Thomas/AFP via Getty Images)

Top 14 champions Montpellier are standing by the players who were last week taken into police custody in France and will come before the local criminal court next February. Philippe Saint-Andre’s side were crowned first-time champions in Paris on June 24 with a comfortable win over Castres, but celebrations back in their home city encounter a problem four days later that will now have a court sequel on February 13.

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According to French media, midfielder Pierre Lucas was allegedly struck at the Australian bar in Montpellier and the incident carried over outside the premises with fellow centre Thomas Darmon and prop Enzo Forletta, who was capped by France on their 2021 Australian tour, getting involved in a way that has left that pair now having to answer a charge of aggravated violence.

The players didn’t keep the matter secret, instead warning the club at the time that they had been caught up in an incident, and Montpellier have now issued a statement after the intervention of the police. It read: “Montpellier Herault Rugby reacts to events reported in the press concerning the placement in police custody of three members of its professional staff on Wednesday, September 21.

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“This police custody, which ended later in the day, follows the attack of which one of the players was the victim this summer in a Montpellier night establishment and the circumstances of which remain to be clarified. Montpellier Herault Rugby stands alongside its players, who have always shown exemplary behaviour on and off the field, and will not add any comments pending judgement.”

Lucas has played three times in this season’s Top 14 campaign off the bench, Darmon has started twice while Forletta has made four appearances, two as a sub.

Ahead of this Sunday’s match at home to Toulouse, Saint-Andre reiterated that the players have the support of the Montpellier set-up. “They have always been transparent with the club because they revealed the facts to me the day after the problem,” he explained.

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“Secondly, you still have to know that the first person who was attacked without any motive was Pierre Lucas and that now we trust the justice system to do its job. We are behind our players but we are concentrating because we have an essential and very important match on Sunday against Stade Toulousain.”

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