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Six Grenoble players held in French rape investigation

Grenoble’s Stade des Alpes in southern France © AFP/File / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT

Grenoble, France, Mar 22 – French police investigating a rape allegation on Wednesday detained six Grenoble rugby players including two Irishmen, two New Zealanders and an Australian former international, prosecutors said.

The six are being questioned following a complaint by a young woman that she was allegedly raped by the players after meeting them at a nightclub in Bordeaux following their Top 14 match against Bordeaux-Begles on March 11. The complaint was filed the following day.

Bordeaux police travelled to Grenoble to question the players, who arrived at a Grenoble police station at around 8:40 am (0740 GMT) on Wednesday.

The players were named as Australian lock Peter Kimlin, 31, capped twice by his country; prop Denis Coulson 22, and centre Chris Farrell, 24, both from Ireland; New Zealand back rowers Rory Grice, 26, and Dylan Hayes, 23; and French hooker Loick Jammes.

Three were accompanied by lawyers while the other three were apparently not represented and entered the police station through a back door.

Kimlin, the oldest player under investigation, was picked to play for Australia twice against Italy in 2009 and previously played for Australia’s ACT Brumbies and Exeter Chiefs in England. He joined Grenoble in 2013.

New Zealander Grice was capped twice for the All-Black Under-20s side before he joined Grenoble two seasons ago. Compatriot Hayes is a product of the Grenoble academy.

A lawyer for Coulson, another product of the Grenoble academy, said her client was “serene” after being questioned for around two and a half hours.

“This was an evening between consenting young people and important elements will appear during the day,” Michele Girot-Marc was quoted by regional daily Le Dauphine Libere as saying.

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Frenchman Jammes, 22, is also a former Grenoble academy player and features on a development list identifying talented players by the French Rugby Federation for 2016-17.

– Grenoble in crisis –

Police also questioned Grenoble club official Michel Martinez for two hours at the police station as a witness, the Dauphine Libere newspaper reported. It said several other Grenoble club officials and players were also expected to be questioned during the day as witnesses.

On Friday the club, which is struggling to avoid relegation from the elite Top 14 division, sacked the players who were under investigation — without releasing their identities.

The alleged victim told police she met several Grenoble players in a nightclub after the club’s Top 14 defeat in Bordeaux. She alleged that they later took her to a hotel room where the rape occurred.

Last week the club’s Irish coach Bernard Jackman was dismissed in response to disappointing on-field performances which have added to Grenoble’s relegations fears.

Although the club stressed his departure was in no way linked to the rape investigation, the scandal increased the sense of deepening crisis at Grenoble.

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