Tuesday 24 January 2017

Mass brawl erupts at rugby match between British and French navies

Published 24/03/2016 | 15:36

Players representing the British and French navies were involved in a fight on the pitch
Players representing the British and French navies were involved in a fight on the pitch

The British and French navies renewed centuries-old hostilities dating back to the Napoleonic era during a mass brawl at their annual rugby match.

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The Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale's rugby union sides were involved in a melee on the pitch during the first half of the keenly-fought contest, named "Le Crunch".

A video posted on YouTube showed players for the Royal Navy, wearing grey, and the French navy, in blue, throwing punches and grappling with each other during the match in Toulon on Wednesday.

In live updates on its Facebook page, Royal Navy Rugby Union described the fight as a "significant altercation" resulting in two red cards as well as a yellow card for a late tackle.

The game then resumed, with Marine Nationale going on to win 28-6 to level the series at six apiece.

A Royal Navy spokesman said it was not known what sparked the brawl.

He said: " We are aware of an incident at a rugby match between the Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale in Toulon, France. We understand the match continued without further incident and the two sides socialised together after the game."

Match officials were drawing up a report and Royal Navy players could face disciplinary action, he added.

In 1793, the two navies traded more than punches in the siege of Toulon during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Napoleon Bonaparte, then a young artillery officer, forced the Anglo-Spanish fleet to withdraw from the port city after commanding a battery of guns to fire on British ships.

Press Association

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