Three French rugby internationals have been hospitalised after being attacked by a gang of men armed with swords and machetes at the weekend.
Clermont Auvergne players Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Pierre and Benjamin Kayser were set upon by the gang of around 12 men as they returned to their hotel in the town of Millau in southern France in the early hours of Sunday.
Pierre, a lock who played in the 2011 World Cup final with Rougerie, will have to undergo "reconstructive surgery" on "deep cuts" to his hip after the players were slashed and hacked by the men.
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All three were rushed to hospital after the attack, at around 3am on Sunday, but their injuries were said to be non life-threatening. Rougerie and Kayser were slashed on the arms while Pierre suffered serious wounds on his hips.
The Week correspondent Gavin Mortimer said that the group may have been attacked after coming to the aid of woman who was being "pushed around" by a man. He apparently fled, only to return with a group of armed men who then attacked the players.
Clermont Auverge said it was "deeply shocked and outraged" by the attack. The club's sporting director Jean-Marc Lhermet said the incident was "as unexpected as it was brutal", reports the Daily Telegraph. "No one was expecting that. The evening had gone really well," he added.
The players were staying in Millau before heading to a club training camp ahead of the new Top 14 season, reports the BBC.
Centre Rougerie, 33, who has 77 caps for France, is the Clermont captain. Kayser, a hooker, has played for France 24 times. Pierre has 27 caps.
No-one was arrested at the scene but the club has pledged to help with the police investigation and has said it might bring a prosecution of its own.
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