Harinordoquy Dad’s one-man army takes pitch by storm

IRISH rugby referee Peter Fitzgibbon found himself officiating a bizarre encounter on Tuesday night when the father of Biarritz and French star Imanol Harinordoquy raced onto the pitch and attempted to punch players in a stormy Basque derby.

Lucien Harinordoquy, 61, stormed onto the pitch early in the Top 14 league game when his son clashed with a pair of Bayonne players and attempted to punch one of them, Jean-Jo Marmouyet, in the face.

Before he was able to make contact with Marmouyet, Harinordoquy senior was tackled by Bayonne fly-half Benjamin Boyet.

“I tackled him because he was attacking one of my team mates. I put him to the ground and (Biarritz hooker) Benoit August told me to stop, because it was Imanol’s father,” Boyet told L’Equipe.

But Bayonne claim that during the match their players and supporters were also subjected to vitriolic treatment on and off the pitch by Biarritz officials and fans, and have taken up their case with the Ligue National de Rugby (LNR).

“Aviron Bayonnais are shocked by the climate of violence and aggression that marred the 100th Basque derby on Tuesday night at Biarritz’ Stade Aguilera,” a club spokesman said yesterday.

“The players were subject to provocation and insults as were the supporters of the sky blue and white.

“These incidents were notably illustrated by the intervention in the playing area by a supporter and sponsor of Biarritz Olympique during a fracas between the two sides. This incident was grotesque and Aviron Bayonnais will this afternoon file two distinct complaints against Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque and Mr Lucien Harinordoquy.”

Biarritz have yet to make any official comment on the match, which they won 21-19, thanks to a last minute penalty from fly-half Julien Peyrelongue, but Biarritz president Serge Blanco initially played down the incident.

“We returned to the rugby of yesteryear, with a fair bit of macho-ness, provocation and a packed stadium,” the former France legend told local paper Sudouest.

LNR boss Pierre-Yves Revol, who watched the game alongside Blanco and FFR president Pierre Camou, said that Harinordoquy’s actions were “a first in world rugby” and that his organisation would investigate.

For his part, Harinordoquy senior yesterday apologised for his role in the incident in a statement released on the Biarritz website.

“I want to apologise,” said Harinordoquy. “What I did wasn’t normal. It was stupid and wasn’t the right thing to do.

“I apologise to everyone who was present at Aguilera, Bayonne and Biarritz people, the two teams and their staff, the LNR and the FFR, and the rugby world in general.

“Under pressure for various reasons, I lost control completely. I regret behaving like this on what was a great feast of rugby.”

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