As if rugby wasn't a hard enough game...

by international correspondent Michael Bolan (who is not 100% sure of the authenticity of the details, but still - it makes interesting reading!)

On Sunday 14th March 1999, Spain played Romania at home in the first of the IRB Rugby World Cup European Zone preliminaries. The other team in the group is Portugal. The idea is that the three teams play each other to see who goes into the seed pool (decided after this year's World Cup) for the next world cup. They play home and away, so that's six games in all.

Halfway through the first half the Spanish prop forward Iganez was sent off for stamping on the Romanian fly half Corin Abrazu. The Romanian was taken off the field for treatment to two wounds, a head wound and a leg wound. After the physio had tried to staunch the flow of blood to the head wound, (and failed) he called for an ambulance to get Abrazu into the hospital.

At the hospital, a broken knife blade was removed from Abrazu's leg. He was allowed home from hospital, and flew home a few days later. Iganez was arrested for attempted murder by the Spanish Police in Pamplona. Iganez has continually denied any wrongdoing (and video evidence supports this).

Last week Abrazu withdrew from the Romanian team to play Portugal, complaining of headaches. It was thought he had banged his head in a club match the previous weekend. He collapsed at his home, and was rushed to hospital. X-Rays showed a .22 calibre bullet lodged in his brain. The entrance wound had been stitched by a Spanish doctor in the belief that it had been caused by a boot stud.

Iganez was then questioned by Spanish police about the bullet....

The truth is much more surreal. Apparently, Abrazu had received death threats before the Spanish game via post (the letter was sent from Cadiz).

He laughed them off until fifteen minutes into the game he felt what he thought was a bee sting on the back of his head. He felt the wound and found that he was bleeding. Not knowing what had happened, he continued until four minutes later when the incident with Iganez occurred.

Iganez plays for Bilbao in the Basque country. He had received a letter before the match saying that unless he helped with the murder of Abrazu, his family would be murdered. He was told that someone on the pitch would kill the Romanian. All he had to do was to "rough up" the Romanian to allow a doctor on to the pitch. This is what he was attempting to do when he was called aside by the ref. Only, he had done nothing up to that point.

Spanish authorities, investigating the incidents found that:

  1. Abrazu was targeted because he had been "seeing" (a euphemism) Inja Felipede Compostilla ... the ETA boss's daughter (ETA being the Basque extremists), the year before while he played for Santander in Spain. She was pregnant by him.
  2. The knife wound was administered by a stretcher assistant, the knife used is an ETA specialty called a "Juanez", where the blade is intended to break inside the wound.
  3. The bullet was fired from the crowd by a hired assassin ...hired by Inja Felipe de Campostilla because Abrazu had abandoned her after getting her pregnant....

All of the suspects have now been rounded up. Spanish authorities also want to extradite Abrazu, since the young "lady" in question is just 14 years old...