Christophe Dominici: Former France winger lit up world rugby, says Will Greenwood
Christophe Dominici died in Paris on Tuesday at the age of 48; he played 67 Tests for France and scored 25 tries; his most famous try came against the All Blacks in the semi-final of the 1999 Rugby World Cup
Last Updated: 24/11/20 11:45pm
Christophe Dominici was a player who was adored by fans and lit up the world of rugby, says Will Greenwood.
The former France and Stade Francais winger died on Tuesday aged 48, prompting an outpouring of memories and tributes on social media.
Greenwood, who played against Dominici on the French star's international debut in Paris in 1998, said he was a part of an era of French backline players known for their "wizardry".
"He played in a backline with Stephane Glas [and] Franck Comba, and they just knew the wizardry of their hands and spatial awareness," Greenwood said. "Such a special footballer.
"He was adored by his fans. They used to do a calendar for Stade Francais and he was always the number one man.
"Everyone knew him. He lit up the world of rugby."
Dominici played 67 Tests for France and scored 25 tries, but his most famous score for Les Bleus came in the 1999 World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks at Twickenham.
New Zealand, boasting the likes of Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen in their side that day, were firm favourites to win and at 24-10 ahead, looked to have the game wrapped up.
However, the French bounced back with 33 unanswered points, including a try from Dominici that put his side in the lead before they went on to finish 43-31 victors to book a place in the final.
"He was opposite Tana Umaga that day and Jonah Lomu, they're huge men. Christophe was a tiny little fella," Greenwood said.
"At 24-22, Dominici picks up the ball and scores. They went on to win by a little bit more but he scored the try that knocked out one of the greatest teams that's ever played.
"That All Blacks team were nailed on to win that World Cup in 1999, and just like the French can only do, at half-time they were down and out... just go out, que sera sera and bam!
"I implore all kids; if you want to know what Dominici was about, watch those 40 minutes of rugby in that semi-final, it will have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck.
"He contributed to that French team and that Stade Francais team for so, so long. It's desperately sad to hear this news."
'A rugby genius and peerless companion'
The news of Dominici's passing was announced by Stade Francais, who said: "During the 11 years spent in our colours, Christophe, thanks to his incredible talent and his class, greatly contributed to writing the legend of the club.
"An international 65 times, his exploits in the blue jersey have dazzled thousands of young rugby players and allowed the French team to write some of the most beautiful pages in its history.
"A rugby genius and peerless companion, he leaves a great void in our big family. Our hearts go out to his family, his partner Loretta, his daughters Chiara and Mia."
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."
Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll also expressed his condolences, writing 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."