August 2004: a night that changed the life of former France captain, Marc Cécillon, as he fatally shot his wife, Chantal, in front of 60 people at a party.
The worst part? The shooting could have been avoided. Cécillon initially left the party after being asked to leave, as the former No.8 returned home. Upon his arrival, the former captain collected a revolver he had purchased when on tour in South Africa with the initial intention of shooting himself:
“I didn’t have the courage. I should have done. I know that I’ve destroyed my family; I know that I’ve killed my wife. But I don’t know why.”
Upon returning to the party with a revolver, Cécillon’s lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter was raised to murder, as the jury decided the public prosecution of a 15-year sentence was too lenient; he was sentenced to 20 years as a result of the increase in punishment.
The prosecution decided that with the former captain shooting his wife five times at point blank range, suggested an element of intent, rather than a spur of the moment incident.
“I wanted my wife to come back with me. I wanted the two of us to leave together,”
“Why did I shoot? It is a question I shall ask myself all my life.”
Cécillon in court
The former rugby player was reportedly experiencing depression following retirement, which underlines the importance of some top sports men and women needing help following their careers after they have finished playing their respective sports.
He was released on parole in the summer of 2011, and following the heavy media coverage of his trial, his location and being remains unknown. This is made evident by his son – who currently plays for Montpellier – only revealing as recently as 2015 that his father is Marc Cécillon.
Cécillon won’t be remembered for his 46 French caps or captaining Les Blues. The former captain who was known as the Quiet Man of French rugby took a life, and went from national hero to shamed murderer.