Animal rights backlash after former Scotland rugby star said rabbits killed on team-building exercise

Former Scotland international Jim Hamilton has backtracked on comments he made suggesting that players were made to execute rabbits by head coach Vern Cotter,writes Douglas Imrie.

The now retired lock said the incident took place while on a team-building exercise with the French marines in the Pyrenees in the build up to last year’s Rugby World Cup - as the coach sought to “toughen them up.”

Hamilton made his detailed remarks in a podcast with The Rugby Pod last week stating that, 'an army guy at the camp pulled out this bunny rabbit - it's not even a wild rabbit - and says: "this is how you need to kill it."

'He's swinging this rabbit round with one hand, then next thing he slams it on the floor.

'I'm not joking, the thing's eyes popped out of its head, then he cuts his throat.

'So the boys had to go and kill the other three. Richie (Gray) is spinning this thing round and he's saying that he can't slam it, and Vern shouts: "f**kin' kill it!"

'Richie does it, but it's not dead, it's shaking like mad and there's blood everywhere, and he's slamming it over the head with a stick.

'Needless to say, the rabbits didn't taste that succulent - they were a bit tough. But that's all we had for food, with 35 baguettes.'

Hamilton has since attempted to clarify his recount. Taking to social media he tweeted that the French survival camp at Font Romeu was 'v educational' and that his account of the rabbit deaths had been 'exaggerated'.

This has not prevented criticism coming from animal activists.

Elisa Allen, UK director of charity PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said in a statement: "Turning rugby players into killers won't improve their game, and to call it 'unsporting' is an understatement.

"Crushing the skulls of rabbits and slitting their throats are terrifying and agonising ways to kill these sensitive, intelligent animals, and such violent acts may be illegal in France, where this cruelty allegedly occurred.

"PETA is calling on authorities to investigate and also asking the rugby league to take immediate action to put a stop to any further 'training' with animals'."

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