Rugby Union: French 'plunged into hell' by coke & ecstasy bombshell; COUNTDOWN TO THE SIX NATIONS: 9 DAYS TO GO.Byline: Alex SPINK Rugby Correspondent
FRANCE France (frăns, Fr. fräNs), officially French Republic, republic (2005 est. pop. 60,656,000), 211,207 sq mi (547,026 sq km), W Europe. prop Pieter de Villiers Pieter de Villiers may refer to:
De Villiers was due to pack down against Leonard at headquarters on Saturday week when the England legend makes history by winning his 100th cap.
But the 30-year-old France tight head was booted out of his national team in disgrace yesterday after it was revealed that he had failed a random drugs test.
The news has stunned the rugby world with French Federation president Bernard Lapasset saying: "We didn't imagine that Pieter would plunge into this sort of hell, which is so far from his personality.
"It's very difficult to swallow because he had always been an example in the French team.
"We could not have imagined worse. This case is going to hurt French rugby very badly."
Nobody was more surprised than Leonard who had expected an exhaustive physical challenge from de Villiers on the day he becomes the first international forward ever to complete a ton of caps.
"I am very shocked," he said. "I know Pieter as a player and a bloke and he's a star. I have been out with him and at no time has his behaviour suggested he would be involved in anything like this."
But French team boss Bernard Laporte Bernard Laporte (born 1 July, 1964 in Rodez, Aveyron) is the current head coach of the France national rugby union team, taking over in 1999. He was previously the coach at Stade Français. He was the first fully professional head coach of France. decided to take action and ask questions later.
"I feel sad and angry," he said. "It is important that Pieter doesn't play at Twickenham. It is important for the spirit of rugby.
"I know Pieter and I am sure it is not continuous use but in life there are rules and we don't accept a player who takes drugs. When you are a high level player you have a duty to younger people. If we do nothing we are irresponsible."
Leonard was quick to jump on any suggestion that rugby suffers from a drugs problem and that the de Villiers case is only the tip of the iceberg.
He said: "In England players are always being told of the perils of drugs, from the seniors down to the youths. You get supplements and proteins but even these are scrutinised closely.
"In the 12 years I have been involved with England there has never been anything like this news from France."
De Villiers, one of 13 players from Stade Francais who were subject to on-the-spot urine tests on December 18, has played 29 times for his adopted country after gaining citizenship in 1999. If his B sample is confirmed as positive he may never reach 30.
De Villiers pleaded his innocence last night, saying: "I have always been honest with my sport and I don't take drugs. I have always lived for my passion for rugby. I don't know how these traces got into my body.
"I haven't been sleeping or eating in the past 24 hours and I am asking myself thousands of questions." He added: "After the match against Harlequins on December 14, some of the team went into Paris for a night out.
"We drank a lot and at some point I didn't feel well at all. I took a taxi home and was violently sick and suffered from an awful headache. The symptoms were particularly bad."
One nation's calamity could be another's salvation as England have desperate problems of their own with front row personnel and need all the help they can get after confirmation last night that tight head prop Phil Vickery Phil Vickery may be:
The squad's other tight head, Julian White Julian White MBE (born 14 May 1973 in Plymouth, Devon) is an English rugby union footballer who plays prop for Leicester Tigers and England.
Julian White is regarded as one of the most powerful forwards in the game. , is also increasingly unlikely to play in the Six Nations opener.
In that case Woodward will probably move Leonard across to tight head and bring in Leicester's Graham Rowntree Graham Christopher Rowntree (born. 18 April 1971) is an English international rugby union footballer who plays loosehead prop for Leicester Tigers and England. Perhaps more remarkable is that his 45 caps came during the career of the world's 2nd most capped player, Jason Leonard. at loose head.
Wales fly-half Stephen Jones Stephen Jones is the name of:
IN THE DOCK: De Villiers faces charges of using illegal drugs