Rugby Union: Former French international killed in gun tragedy

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ARMAND VAQUERIN, the former French international, was killed yesterday while playing with a pistol in a bar in Beziers, near Montpellier in southern France. The 42-year-old, who won 26 caps for France playing at prop, was with some friends at the time of the tragedy.

They were playing with a pistol and thought they had taken all the bullets out when Vaquerin was hit and killed instantly, Beziers police revealed. Vaquerin won 10 French titles with the Beziers club and played in 11 French championship finals.

The South African rugby union team could be severely depleted for one of the toughest matches on their tour of Australia because certain players have objected to playing on a Sunday, including Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.

The first South African rugby team to visit Australia since 1971 left Johannesburg yesterday for a 13-match tour that includes three Tests against the Wallabies.

In the past, the Springboks have never been required to play on a Sunday. Team manager Jannie Engelbrecht is adamant that the players' religious principles come first, and nobody will be forced to play against his will at Brisbane.

'We are not trying to be difficult, but there are a number of players, including myself, who do not feel very comfortable with this. I have never played rugby on a Sunday because it is contrary to my Christian beliefs. I realise that all of us must make some sacrifices, but I will have to think long and hard on this one.'

The Queensland fixture is an important one as it is the Springboks' final preparation for the following Saturday's second Test against Australia in Brisbane.

The Welsh Rugby Union is set to make sweeping financial cuts over the next year in an attempt to put itself back in the black. In the space of two years the WRU has lost more than pounds 800,000 at a time when their expenditure on salaries, development and loans to clubs has increased dramatically.