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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Bridgend admit bar 'incident'
Bridgend centre Gareth Thomas
Bridgend lost the Parker Pen Cup match in Pau
Bridgend have admitted that some of their players were involved in an "incident" after a match in France.

A 24-year-old Frenchman claimed that one of the Bridgend players allegedly made an "indelicate" gesture aimed at his girlfriend in a bar in Pau on 12 October.

Earlier that day, Bridgend had lost their first round, first leg Parker Pen Challenge Cup match 18-6 to Pau.


If any police authority makes contact with the club concerning the incident, Bridgend RFC will co-operate fully
Statement released by Bridgend RFC

A French lawyer, Claude Garcia, representing two people in Pau said he had written to European Rugby Cup Limited (ERC), the competition's governing body, asking for Bridgend to be excluded.

Garcia also said that an investigation by French police was ongoing and that some of the players identified by the accusers could be forced to return to France to give statements about the alleged assault.

In a statement issued by Bridgend on Friday, the club admitted that an incident had taken place but said that they had not been contacted by the French police.

However, French police confirmed to BBC Wales on Friday that they are investigating complaints about the behaviour of four members of Bridgend rugby club following the match in Pau.

"Members of Bridgend RFC were involved in an incident in Pau following the game," the Bridgend official statement said.

"That incident was resolved at the time and the incident did not necessitate French police being summoned.

Bridgend's Matt James is tackled by a Pau defender
Bridgend played two tough games against Pau

"Neither Bridgend RFC nor the members of the club involved in the incident have received any communication from the French police or any police authority concerning the incident.

"If any police authority makes contact with the club concerning the incident, Bridgend RFC will co-operate fully with any requests for information that they make."

There is also the possibility that ERC could ban Bridgend from European competition for a set period if they are found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

"Bridgend RFC has been in constant contact with European Rugby Cup Limited concerning the incident and has advised them of its understanding of the incident following interviews of those involved.

"ERC has not received any communication from any police authorities concerning the incident.

"Bridgend RFC's solicitors, RTL, have sent various communications to Mr Claude Garcia concerning this matter and have advised him that they consider his conduct to be unprofessional...

"...he is making unfounded allegations against Bridgent RFC through the media and such conduct is prejudicial to the club and its members.

"This behaviour is unacceptable and tantamount to trial by media."

But Mr Garcia believes the incident involving a group of Bridgend players is serious enough to merit the club being thrown out of the competition.

He is working with the Pau club and has appealed to ERC for the most serious available sanction to be applied for bringing the competition into disrepute.

"For my clients, exclusion must be the penalty for Bridgend," said Mr Garcia.

Apart from banning Bridgend, European rugby bosses have the powers to impose a fine or suspend individual players.

Bridgend deny that such action is appropriate. They beat Pau 27-9 in the home return leg and progressed to the second round at the French club's expense.

ERC said they are monitoring the situation and will wait for reports from the two clubs and keep an eye on the police investigations before deciding if any action is necessary.

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French lawyer Claude Garcia
"We have made a complaint to ERC"

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

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See also:

24 Oct 02 | International
24 Oct 02 | Celtic
Links to more European stories are at the foot of the page.


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