French rugby players spoken to by police over sex assault claim

Members of the France rugby team found themselves caught up in a short-lived police investigation yesterday after being interviewed over an alleged sexual assault in Edinburgh city centre just hours after their match against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Several players were questioned by officers from Police Scotland at Edinburgh Airport, where they had been due to fly out to Paris after losing their Natwest 6 Nations match by 32 to 26.

The force said the members of the French team were interviewed as “potential witnesses” as part of its inquiries, which went on to establish that “no crime” had been committed.

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The bizarre turn of events played out over the space of a few hours yesterday, disrupting plans by Jacques Brunel and his players to return home on schedule.

France's rugby team take part in the captain's run training session at BT Murrayfield. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

The players’ return had been due to depart at 11am but was temporarily grounded as they were spoken to by police at the airport, amid a slew of speculation on social media that they had been caught up in an altercation the previous evening.

In a statement issued shortly before midday, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) confirmed that several players were being interviewed by authorities.

An hour later, however, police confirmed that their inquiries had come to an end, and that no one had been arrested or charged.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Following an initial report of sexual assault in Edinburgh city centre during the early hours of Monday 12 February, police conducted various lines of inquiry, including speaking to a number of potential witnesses. These inquiries have established that no crime has been committed.”

France's rugby team take part in the captain's run training session at BT Murrayfield. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

A spokeswoman for the force added that the players were interviewed in the terminal building at Edinburgh, and that no one was “taken off the plane”.

She also dismissed reports circulating online that members of the French squad had been taken to a police station in the capital as part of their inquiries.

One French journalist claimed on Twitter that some of the French players had been left slightly injured after getting involved in a “brawl” but the FFR described the report as “false”.

The France team’s chartered Jet2 flight to Paris Orly eventually departed Edinburgh at 1pm.

It is believed that Mr Brunel gave his team the green light to go out in Edinburgh after their match against Gregor Townsend’s men at Murrayfield.

The French news site Rugbyrama said several players were seen in Tiger Lily, a popular nightspot in the city’s George Street.

The venue’s events manager, Jo McKinnell, confirmed some of the French players were in the bar on Sunday evening but said there were no incidents.