Toulon owner Boudjellal: French rugby has a cocaine problem
French club unlikely to extend contract of James O’Connor following weekend arrest
Former Wallaby James O’Connor is unlikely to have his Toulon contract extended. Photograph: Thierry Zoccolan/Afp
Former Wallaby James O’Connor will be suspended by Toulon and may not have his contract extended following his detention by Paris police for an alleged attempt to buy cocaine, the French club’s president Mourad Boudjellal has said.
The 26-year-old utility back, capped 44 times for Australia, and former All Blacks lock Ali Williams were charged for attempting to buy three vials of cocaine from drug dealers on Saturday, a judicial source told Reuters.
The pair were released on Sunday, with Williams expected to appear in court at a later date and O’Connor to pay a fine for cocaine possession.
“He won’t escape a suspension,” Comic book tycoon Boudjellal told French newspaper Le Figaro.
“He’s a kid with troubles, he’s 26. I’m not going to kill him either.
“Whatever decision I take, I will take everything into account, and I’ll try not to damage the kid.”
Boudjellal said O’Connor’s brush with the police had “reopened the debate” as to the extension of his contract.
“We’re not at a stage where we would extend it. We’ll try to manage this season. But I do not want to overburden him,” he said.
Williams, a World Cup winner capped 77 times, was suspended by his Paris club Racing Metro over the weekend.
Boudjellal said he felt cocaine use had become common in French rugby.
“It’s my personal feeling, I do not have any evidence but I’m under the impression that it’s invited itself into the rugby milieu because alcohol is not enough anymore,” he said.
“And that’s a bad thing. We had the alcohol step, now it’s a step above because cocaine is festive, it disappears easily.
“It has to stop. So I want to know if it’s an isolated case or if there are other players who like to party.”
Boudjellal’s comments come weeks after the club signed Ben Barba, who was suspended for 12 matches by Australia’s National Rugby League for testing positive for cocaine during celebrations with his championship-winning team Cronulla Sharks last year.