REPORTING – The stadium where Stade Français Paris trains was renamed on Wednesday in tribute to the iconic former winger who died suddenly almost a year ago.
The wound is not yet cauterized. Far from there. The emotion is still strong, on edge, for all those – many – who knew Christophe Dominici, brutally deceased on November 24, 2020. And, this Wednesday, a vibrant tribute to the elusive winger, hero of the half anthology final in 1999 against the All Blacks, was made in Paris. The stadium where the Stade Français trains, in the Bois de Boulogne, which until then was called the Saut du Loup stadium, has been renamed to become the Christophe-Dominici stadium. Less than a year after his tragic disappearance.
And, alongside his wife Loretta, his daughters Chiara and Mya, and his father “Jeannot”, the entire Stade Français, from yesterday to today, was keen to participate in this strong moment. The list is long of those who made the trip. His former teammates (Franck Comba, Christophe Moni, Sylvain Marconnet, Mathieu Blin, Jérôme Fillol), his ex-president and close friend Max Guazzini, his former manager Alain Elias, but also the current players of the Parisian club, with the current manager Gonzalo Quesada and his assistant Julien Arias … They were all there for “Domi”.
The club’s most fervent subscribers had been invited to the ceremony, the team of young people under 12 was there too and the budding rugby players had donned for the occasion a tribute t-shirt, pink, with their faces on the back. Parisian icon. Thomas Lombard, who became general manager of the capital club, was the first to speak. “I didn’t want to prepare anything special, I wanted spontaneity as he was on the pitch. He was not a player like the others.»And to thank the town hall of Paris which voted for this« naming »with strong symbolic value. “If the Stade Français represents what it is today, it is thanks to Christophe, who represented a form of insolence and irreverence.“
“Domi” will now be part of the heritage of the city of Paris. We can say that “Domi” is the Stade Français
Thomas Lombard continues: “It was radiating on off the pitch. If you needed anything, you’d barely hung up the phone when it was already there.The father of “Domi”, “Jeannot”, made the trip from the Var. In tears, his voice quavering, he in turn comes to the microphone and simply thanks all the people who made the trip. He won’t say more, overwhelmed by sobs.
Then comes the turn of Pierre Rabadan, the voice is charged and the eye shining too. He is directly at the origin of this project, he who became deputy mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, in charge of sports. “Emotion catches up with me fast, I’ll try not to catch up, he asks. We are still in pain, we have difficulty recovering, we always have trouble realizing …“
Nonetheless, Pierre Rabadan, a true child of the Stade Français where he started with young people before making his entire career there, is “proud“To see this rural stadium, this small island of greenery in the heart of the city, made up of three fields, now called by the name of the one who is”for some a son, for others a brother, a companion, a friend“. ““Domi” will now be part of the heritage of the city of Paris. We can say that “Domi” is the Stade Français, underlines the old third-line. Paris was his little paradise. And now, it will allow future generations to remember him.“
Honestly, I haven’t gotten over that story. I am from the South and as soon as I go down to Hyères, I go to the cemetery
In addition to a traditional commemorative plaque, the Paris city hall has commissioned the famous street-art artist C215 to produce a work, representing the face of the former winger, which will also be displayed in the enclosure. “From where he is, we can be sure he would smile“, Imagines Pierre Rabadan. Finally, everyone gathered in front of the entrance to the now “Christophe-Dominici stadium” and the official sign was unveiled. Under the applause. A final strong moment during which Max Guazzini could not hold back his tears.
“I’m very emotive. Christophe was someone who was very dear to me. I never hid from others that he was my favorite player. There, it’s unreal to see a stadium called Christophe-Dominici. Look, I see it all day, it’s my wallpaper, he confides to us, brandishing his smartphone. Honestly, I haven’t gotten over that story. I am from the South and as soon as I go down to Hyères, I go to the cemetery. Seeing his name on a grave is unreal … He who was full of life.“
The death of “Domi” deeply marked French rugby. Before inaugurating the Christophe-Dominici stadium, the Stade Français had joined forces with RC Toulon – the two clubs where he played – to create a trophy in his name, put into play each season during the two confrontations between Parisians and Varois . Another way to perpetuate the memory of “the first ultra-publicized player beyond rugby», Recalls Pierre Rabadan. Following this beautiful tribute, a last drink was organized for close friends and relatives. But for all, as Thomas Lombard sums it up, “life is more monotonous without Christophe“.
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