The Hong Kong Telegraph - Rugby pays its last respects to former Pumas star Aramburu

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Rugby pays its last respects to former Pumas star Aramburu
Rugby pays its last respects to former Pumas star Aramburu

Rugby pays its last respects to former Pumas star Aramburu

Federico Martin Aramburu was a man "concerned about peace and revolted by injustice" said the priest officiating at the former Argentina rugby International’s funeral on Saturday in Biarritz.

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Aramburu, 42, was shot dead early last Saturday after he and some friends were embroiled in a dispute with another group at a cafe in the French capital Paris's chic Saint-Germain neighbourhood.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the murder of the 22-times capped Puma, who scored a try as Argentina beat 2007 World Cup hosts France in the third-place playoff.

He played club rugby in France for Biarritz, Perpignan and Dax from 2004 to 2010, winning the Top 14 title twice with Biarritz and later sitting on the club's board of directors.

Since his retirement, Aramburu had lived in Biarritz and worked for a tourism company -- the esteem and affection he was held in by the community displayed as the Argentine national flag and his portrait were hung from the balcony of the town hall.

Bernard Laporte, France's coach in 2007 and now president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), as well as rugby legend and former Biarritz president Serge Blanco were among many rugby luminaries at the funeral.

Hundreds of mourners -- including Arumburu's widow Maria who was arm in arm with their two daughters Trinidad and Justina -- packed into the Saint-Eugenie church on the sea front with many others watching the service on a giant screen.

'Fede's coffin was carried into church by former club team-mates Thomas Lievremont and Nicolas Brusque as well as his compatriot Manuel Carizza and Shaun Hegarty, a friend who was with him in the cafe where the tragedy unfolded.

Their entry into the church was heralded by a traditional Basque farewell song ("Agur Jauna", "Farewell great man").

The funeral mass was conducted both in French and Spanish by family friend Father Arnaud with other former Biarritz team-mates such as Dimitri Yachvili and Imanol Harinordoquy as well as ex-Pumas star Gonzalo Quesada also in attendance.

Outside some of those who stood silently in the sunshine were dressed in the red and white colours of Biarritz while others were in the blue and white of the local amateur football team for whom Aramburu turned out, Jeanne d'Arc Biarritz.

Around 600 of his closest friends and family will attend a wake at the rugby club later on Saturday.

His memory will be honoured nationwide as French Top 14 matches will hold a minute's applause before kick-off this weekend.

Biarritz players will warm-up and then run out before the kick off in their away match with Montpellier wearing T-shirts bearing his image.

Biarritz are planning another tribute in their home match with Pau next weekend.