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French police free Grenoble players in rape case

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Grenoble’s Irish centre Chris Farrell (2ndL) and Grenoble’s Irish prop Denis Coulson (R) arrive on March 21, 2017 at the police station in Grenoble, French Alps © AFP/File / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT

Bordeaux, France, Mar 23 – French police investigating a rape allegation on Thursday released three Grenoble players held overnight for questioning in a case that has propelled rugby on to the front pages.

Six Grenoble players were brought in for questioning on Wednesday after a young woman alleged that they raped her after she met them at a nightclub in Bordeaux following their Top 14 defeat by Bordeaux-Begles on March 11.

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

Kimlin, Hayes and Farrell were released later the same day but prosecutors extended the detention of Coulson, Grice and Jammes by 24 hours and they were quizzed for a second day on Thursday before being released.

Marie-Madeleine Alliot, a Bordeaux prosecutor, said in a statement: “The three custodial measures that were extended on Thursday morning were lifted during the afternoon.”

Investigations into allegations of aggravated rape are ongoing.

Bernard Boulloud, a lawyer for Jammes, told AFP: “Their leaving free does not mean that the investigation isn’t continuing.”

Kimlin took to Twitter late Wednesday to clarify his position.

“I’m finally home after a long day helping the police with their investigation,” he said. “I want to clarify that I wasn’t arrested. I was purely at the police station to help establish a timeline.”

Kimlin’s lawyer Aurelia Mennessier added: “He’s out free. To our knowledge, there’s no charge against him.

“He wants to be publicly exonerated so this affair harms neither his personal life of professional career.”

Similar demands were made by lawyers representing Hayes and Farrell.

Grenoble, struggling to avoid relegation from the elite Top 14 division, last week fired the players who were under investigation — without releasing their identities.

But Kimlin tweeted that he had not been sacked, and Hayes’s lawyer Arnaud Lucien said the Kiwi player’s “sole desire is to get back to the club and play rugby”.

Last week the club also sacked Irish coach Bernard Jackman in response to disappointing on-field performances.

Grenoble rebounded to record a thrilling 23-all draw against giants Toulon on the weekend, a result players described as being like a victory given current circumstances.

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