Fleck hits back

By Time of article published Nov 2, 2004

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Robbie Fleck is under investigation by Irish police on Tuesday after a former England soccer player came up against a team of rugby giants... and lost.

The former Springbok and Stormers centre, now playing for Bath, has been accused of making racist remarks to Stan Collymore in a Dublin nightclub before beating him up with his team-mates.

Fleck has denied the claims. His club says he was on crutches with a calf injury on Saturday night - and witnesses say the footballer started the row with threats of violence and boasts about sexual conquests.

Witnesses say there were several confrontations between the players and Collymore inside the club, Lillie's Bordello, and the row escalated at a fast-food restaurant nearby where the footballer was attacked.

The two-minute assault was broken up by police at 3.30am and Collymore went to hospital, where he was said to have been diagnosed with a broken nose, bruised ribs, suspected elbow fracture and marks to his face.

The ex-footballer claimed he was abused by one of the other players' girlfriends, then by Fleck, who he said called him a "f***ing k****r".

But Bath insiders said Collymore had not been racially abused and had threatened violence against the rugby stars.

"Very early on Collymore sat across from Danny Grewcock, Bath captain, saying: 'I'm going to cut your throat'," said one. "This went on for 90 minutes. He even threw a punch at one of the players. He followed them to the fast-food place and he just kept coming back at them. They got fed up and gave him a slap back."

Another source said Collymore had taunted the players about his previous relationship with TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher.

"Collymore started bragging about sex with Kirsty," he said. "It was over the top. The players felt it was wrong to keep on talking about a woman like that and they wanted him to shut up."

Fleck on Monday night vehemently denied that he had been involved in the incident or that he had said anything racist to Collymore.

"I was at the club, as were most of the team, but I am adamant that I was not involved in the scuffle. I also categorically deny that I said anything racist to Collymore and I am really upset about his allegations," Fleck said via his agent, Dale Jackson.

Bath assistant coach Michael Foley said Fleck could not have been implicated. "Robbie is the most liberal South African you could imagine. He is the most vocal anti-racist," he said.

Fleck recently got into trouble for accusing South African Rugby Football Union president Brian van Rooyen of being racist. Fleck was required to write a letter of apology.

A source at Lillie's Bordello said Collymore had been antagonistic. "It was him who made the remark that started the spat," he said. "It was a very unpleasant comment."

Bath said the alleged incident of assault was dealt with at the time by the Irish police, who chose to make no arrests and bring no charges. Collymore, who was in Dublin to publicise his autobiography, insisted on Monday that he intended to pursue legal action.

Police in Dublin said their investigations were continuing and that Collymore would have to return to Dublin to make a full statement on the alleged incident. Bath have launched their own investigation and the Rugby Football Union said it was "monitoring the matter".

In 1998 Collymore assaulted his then girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson in Paris and earlier this year was sacked from his role as a BBC commentator after confessing to visiting "dogging" sites near his home to have sex with strangers. - Staff Reporter and Agencies

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