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VIDEO: French-British navies' brutal rugby brawl goes viral

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Photo: YouTube Screenshot
12:03 CET+01:00
More than 200 years after Britain and France fought the bloody Siege of Toulon during the French Revolutionary Wars, their modern-day navies came to blows again in the city -- this time on the rugby field.

A video of a mass brawl between the teams of the French Marine Nationale and the Royal Navy, taking part in the annual Babcock International Trophy on Wednesday, went viral this week.

The two rugby sides, the French in blue and the British in grey, fought a running brawl which appeared to involve both sets of players as well as some support staff on the sidelines.

By Friday, the violent video posted on YouTube had been viewed more than 750,000 times.

Despite the incident, both teams attempted to play down the punch-up.    

"We are aware of an incident at a rugby match between the Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale in Toulon, France," said a Royal Navy spokesman.

"We understand the match continued without further incident and the two sides socialised together after the game."

A Marine Nationale spokesman said it was disappointing that the match, won by the home side 28-6 and played every year since 2006, had been overshadowed by the unsightly scenes.

"Yes, there was a fight, as happens everywhere in matches, and then the teams socialised," said Stephanie Poiret of a game played at the Stade Mayol home of European champions Toulon.

"I think it's a pity that we are talking only of 30 seconds of fighting and not the other 79 minutes and 30 seconds of the game."

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In live updates on its Facebook page while the match was in progress on Wednesday, the Royal Navy Rugby Union described the fight as a "significant altercation" resulting in two red cards as well as a yellow card for a late
tackle.

The women's teams from the two navies also played. The French won that game too, 34-3 -- but there were no fights.

The armed forces of France and Britain fought over the city of Toulon in 1793 in a three-month siege where a young Napoleon Bonaparte served as an artillery officer.

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