CNN Balkan Conflict News

Rugby gets rugged between Bosnia and UNPROFOR


November 29, 1995
Web posted at: 11:15 p.m. EST (0415 GMT)

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- It was not a good sign: Rugby players from Bosnia and from the French United Nations Protection Force battalion brawling on the playing field during a match.

The match, held at Sarajevo's Kosevo stadium on Wednesday, was supposed to be the usual friendly rugby rivalry. But no one had any idea that what would start out as intense sport would degenerate into a slug fest.

The Bosnian sports committee and the UNPROFOR French battalion organized the match and had heralded it as an opportunity for UNPROFOR forces to improve relations with the Bosnians. If anyone was betting on that angle, they would have lost.

The significance of the match-up was underlined by the attendance of VIPs from both camps, Hasan Muratovic, Bosnian liaison with the United Nations, and Gen. Bachelet, the commander of the French battalion.

The match started well enough. The two men shook hands with each team's players before play began. But a short while into the match, things took a nasty turn. As players collided with each other, as is normal in rugby, there injured were a few extra kicks and shoves during play in blocking an opponent. And from there, a brawl ensued.

At least one player left the field on a stretcher. The cause of the fistfight is not known. Bosnia's Zenica team won the match 8-7.

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