Former France and Stade Francais winger Dominici dies

FILE PHOTO: France's Christophe Dominici celebrates after the quarter-final Rugby World Cup match against New Zealand in Cardiff October 6, 2007. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (BRITAIN)/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Former France and Stade Francais player Christophe Dominici, whose dazzling runs made him one of the country's best wingers, has died aged 48, his former rugby club said on Tuesday.

"It is with immense sadness that Stade Francais learns of the death of Christophe Dominici," Stade Francais said in a statement.

Dominici won 67 caps for France between 1998 and 2007, scoring a memorable try in their stunning 43-31 victory against New Zealand in the 1999 World Cup.

He started his club career at RC La Valette in 1991 before joining Toulon in 1993 and Stade Francais in 1997 until he ended his career 11 years later.

He won five French national titles with Stade Francais and four Six Nations titles with Les Bleus, including two grand slams -- in 1998 and 2004.

"So much sadness. Christophe Dominici was an immense player, an artist... His sudden death is a shock," sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said.

"I'm devastated," his former France and Stade Francais team mate Sylvain Marconnet said. "With his crappy physique, he beat all the best defences in the world. It really sucks to lose him at 48."

The French National Rugby League (LNR), which oversses professional rugby in the country, said it was saddened by the death of a player who brought joy to the French people.

"After giving so much to the public and to rugby, 'Domi' now leaves us with blues," it said, adding teams in the top two divisions would pay their respects in games this weekend.

New Zealand Rugby was among several unions to pay tribute to Dominici. "Small in stature but a titan on the field," it said on Twitter. "Christophe Dominici we will never forget you."

Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll described Dominici as a player "full of flair with huge success throughout his career", while England's World Cup-winning flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson said the world of sport had lost a true legend.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair/Christian Radnedge/Ken Ferris)

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