French rugby star charged over fan assault after match

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A FRENCH rugby star has been charged with assaulting a fan after Edinburgh’s Heineken Cup win.

Toulouse player Yoann Maestri, 24, is alleged to have lashed out at a fan who was taunting the 19-stone player as he left the pitch at Murrayfield at the weekend.

The player, who was questioned by police following the fan’s complaint, has now been told he must return to Scotland for a court date, it was reported today.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesperson said: “A 24-year-old French national was charged with assault following an incident last Saturday.

“He will appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date.”

Following the epic quarter-final game, which Edinburgh won 19-14, an investigation was launched by the Heineken Cup organisers, ERC, into allegations that supporters had abused Toulouse players.

There were reports that several supporters hurled abuse at the Toulouse bench, which was located beside the running track. Maestri, as well as Samoan prop Census Johnston and Toulouse coaches, were allegedly targets.

Maestri missed the club’s charter flight after being asked to offer an explanation of events, it has been reported.

He later flew home in the company of Toulouse officials, including club president Rene Bouscatel.

Edinburgh officials will be asked to provide their own statement in response to the allegations as part of their post-match follow-up report.

A statement issued by ERC said: “Following reported incidents during the Edinburgh Rugby v Toulouse Heineken Cup quarter-final ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O’Connor, will contact both clubs to request full details of what occurred. He will then review the information before determining whether any further action is warranted.”

The suggestion that the Toulouse players were barracked appears to be at odds with the comments from their coach Guy Noves. In the wake of the encounter played in front of 37,881 spectators, he said earlier this week: “I thought it was a great atmosphere.

“The supporters were backing their team and it was all very good-natured. There was a lot of shouting but it was all done with a smile.

“The Scots were real supporters and they really got behind their team.”

Maestri was part of the French national squad for the 2010 Six Nations Championship, which France won.

The second row forward has won five international caps for France and played against Scotland in France’s 23-17 victory against Scotland at Murrayfield in February.

He was seen as one of the best players in this year’s Six Nations tournament, and was nominated for the player of the tournament award.

Following their historic win, Edinburgh are set to face Ulster in the semi-final. The match will be played at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on April 28.