Tributes have flooded in for former France winger Christophe Dominici after he died at the age of 48.
The marauding wing, known for his immense flair, left an indelible mark on the Championship – scoring a try on his debut in 1998 before going on to win it four times, claiming two Grand Slams along the way.
In all, he made 31 appearances in the Championship but he is perhaps best remembered for his try in France’s semi-final victory over New Zealand in the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
France Rugby tweeted: “The great French rugby family is in mourning after the tragic death of our winger Christophe Dominici. We are thinking especially of his family and loved ones.”
Dominici made 67 appearances for his country in total while he played for his hometown club of Toulon from 1993 to 1997 before moving to Paris to join Stade Francais, where he wrote his name large in French rugby history.
He won five French championships and reached two European Champions Cup finals with the club between 1997 and 2008 with his reputation built on weaving runs that were nearly impossible to stop.
His death has shocked the rugby world, with tributes coming in from all across the globe.
“I was genuinely star struck when I first played against Christophe Dominici for @LeicesterTigers against @SFParisRugby just after RWC1999 – turned out to be such a good guy #Domi,” said former England international Ben Kay, writing on Twitter.
Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll was another to experience many battles with Dominici and he wrote on Twitter: “Very sad to hear of the sudden passing of Christophe Dominici. A French player full of flair with huge success throughout his career. May he RIP.”
While former England wing Jason Robinson squared up against Dominici in the 2007 Rugby World Cup semi-final and he wrote on Twitter: “Had the privilege of playing against the @FranceRugby legend Christophe Dominici on many occasions. Such sad news to hear of his passing! Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends. RIP”
Vincent Clerc is one of a huge number of ex-teammates of Dominici’s who has reflected on his great character and he said: “I came up against him in the past and it was tough. You felt he had this passion to win.”
Clerc also took to Twitter to write: “Thank you domi for everything you brought to French rugby and all these good times spent with you …”
And former France flanker Serge Betsen similarly took to Twitter to write: “Very very touched by this terrible and sad news of “my playing brother” Christophe Dominici.
“The inspiration and soul of a warrior. I am very sad. RIP #Dominici”
Another one of Dominici’s former teammates, Raphaël Ibañez, had the pleasure of captaining the wing and he hailed a man who was above all his friend.
He said: “Domi is a legend of our sport, he wore the jersey with so much energy and passion. He is above all our friend. We have experienced great and beautiful emotions together on the pitch and in life. Thank you #Domi.”
Elsewhere, Will Greenwood expressed his sadness as he wrote on Twitter: “Christophe Dominici. A simply incredible rugby player gone too soon. 1999 @rugbyworldcup semi-final I will remember forever and Christophe left scorched Earth behind him. Rest in Peace. 1972-2020.”
Dominici, of course, shared the stage with New Zealand for the most famous act of his career and his foes from that infamous semi-final in 1999 took to Twitter to declare the former wing a ‘titan’ of the game.
The All Blacks wrote on Twitter: “Small in stature but a titan on the field, Christophe Dominici we will never forget you. Rest In Peace dear friend.”
And even if the subsequent final did not go Dominici’s way, former Australian international Tim Horan took to Twitter to highlight his magnanimous qualities as he wrote: “Incredible player. He was 1st French player post RWC99 final to bring a beer into the Wallabies dressing room.”