Harinordoquy's dad joins son on pitch to fight opposition


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The Independent Online

Imanol Harinordoquy, the exceptional No 8 who did more than anyone to drive France towards October's World Cup final in Auckland, may be the proudest Basque ever to play international rugby – a pride that has been known to manifest itself in a fierce dislike of the opposition, even if they happen to be Basques themselves. Anyone wondering where he gets it from has no need to wonder further. Blame the parents – or at least, M Harinordoquy Snr.

While the local derby between Biarritz and Bayonne down near the Spanish border on Tuesday night always looked like being a little on the lively side – both clubs have been struggling badly in the lower reaches of the French Top 14 championship – no one expected the fun and games to unfold in quite the way they did. Six minutes into the contest, Harinordoquy found himself in meaningful pugilistic discussions with two rivals at the back of a line-out: approximately 10 seconds later, he was joined by his dad, Lucien, still up for the occasional outbreak of hostilities at the ripe old age of 68.

The bespectacled pensioner had left his seat in the main stand at Stade Aguilera and taken the field with the express intention of showing a little family solidarity, only to be tackled by the Bayonne outside-half Benjamin Boyet and dumped on his rear end as he aimed some initial blows at Jean-Jo Marmouyet. Harinordoquy père watched the rest of the game from the Biarritz club office; Harinordoquy fils stayed on the pitch and played a full part in his side's narrow 21-19 victory.

Quite what will happen when England visit Paris for a Six Nations match in the new year is anyone's guess, for if the Harinordoquys have a problem with their fellow Basques, they have a really serious issue with "les rosbifs". Back in 2003, before a championship match against Clive Woodward's dominant team, the supremely athletic back-row forward was quoted as saying: "As long as we beat England, I won't mind if we lose every other game. The only memories I have of England and the English are unpleasant ones. I have decided to adopt the same attitude as them. I despise them as much as they despise everybody else."

Crikey. You can almost hear his old man saying it.