Rugby pays final tribute to former Pumas star Aramburu


BIARRITZ, France, March 26 – Federico Martin Aramburu was a man “concerned with peace and revolted by injustice”, said the priest officiating at the funeral of the former Argentine rugby international on Saturday in Biarritz.

Aramburu, 42, was shot dead early last Saturday after he and friends got embroiled in an argument with another group at a cafe in the upscale Saint-Germain district of the French capital.

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

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 served on the club’s board.

Since his retirement, Aramburu had lived in Biarritz and worked for a tourism company – the esteem and affection he enjoyed with the community displayed like the Argentine national flag and his portrait hung on the balcony of the town hall.

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

Hundreds of mourners – including Arumburu’s widow Maria, who was on the arm of their two daughters Trinidad and Justina – gathered in the Church of Saint Eugenie on the seafront with many other people watching the service on a giant screen.

“Fede’s coffin was carried to the church by former club 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.

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

The funeral mass was celebrated 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 .

The funeral takes place for former Argentinian rugby star Federico Martin Aramburu who was shot and killed following an argument in a Paris cafe last Saturday © AFP/Dossier / Paul ELLIS

Outside, some of those who stood silent in the sunshine were dressed in the red and white colors of Biarritz while others were in the blue and white of the local amateur football team for which Aramburu turned out, Joan of Arc Biarritz.

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

His memory will be honored across the country as the French Top 14 matches will be applauded one minute before kick-off this weekend.

The Biarritz players will warm up and then run before kick-off in their away match with Montpellier wearing t-shirts bearing his likeness.

Biarritz are planning another tribute when they play at home to Pau next weekend.

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