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Former Wales prop Graham Price
pays tribute to Paparemborde
 real 14k

Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
French rugby great dies

Legendary French prop forward Robert Paparemborde has died at the age of 52.

Paparemborde, who was suffering from pancreatic cancer and had undergone an operation in February, died in a Paris clinic on Wednesday evening.

In an illustrious career that included 55 caps between 1975 and 1983, he was part of three French teams which won the Five Nations in 1977, 1981 and 1983, the first two being Grand Slams.

Paparemborde is arguably one of the all-time greats in the game and is often named in fans' dream teams of the last century.

He formed a devastating French front row with Gerard Cholley and Philippe Dintrans in one of the greatest French packs which also included Jean-Pierre Rives, Jean-Claude Skrela and Jean-Pierre Bastiat.

He is the first of the great 1977 side to disappear
  Gerard Cholley
Former team-mate
"As a player he was the most accomplished prop I ever saw," said Bastiat.

"We played in the juniors together and I saw him play stand-off and even winger before he settled down in the front row.

"He never lost a ball and got back on to his feet ten times quicker than the others when he was on the deck."

Cholley paid his own tribute.

"In our group he was the focal point," said Cholley.

"At the front of the scrum we had a great understanding and we were even able to switch sides. It was like that until the end of our careers.

Robert Paparemborde
Paparemborde is in many people's dream XV
"He is the first of the great 1977 side to disappear."

Paparemborde, whose first cap was against South Africa in 1975 and last was against Wales, played for Pau and Racing Club de France.

After finishing his playing career, he went into rugby administration, managing France from 1984 to 1992 and coaching Racing Club in the early 1990s.

He was also a former vice-president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR).

Former Wales prop Graham Price described him as one of the best players of his generation.

"I remember him as a complete all-rounder - he was good at every aspect of the game," said Price.

"He was good with the ball in his hands in the traditional French style, and was also a very strong scrummager."

FFR president Bernard Lapasset said he was saddened by the news.

"Robert Paparemborde was one of the best of his generation, a man who wore the French shirt with pride on rugby fields around the world," Lapasset said in a statement.

"I will never forget Robert as a man of conviction, fidelity and friendship, who was our vice-president at a difficult time."

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09 Apr 01 |  France
French assess their losses
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