O'Connor and Williams charged by French police

International
AFP
by AFP

French police on Sunday charged former All Black Ali Williams with buying cocaine and Australian international James O'Connor with possession of the drug, police sources said.

The pair, who play in France's Top 14, were arrested at 3:00am (0200GMT) on Saturday outside a nightclub near the Champs Elysees allegedly in possession of 2.4 grams (0.08 ounces) of the substance.

They were released from custody on Sunday evening with Williams, 35, due to appear in court at a later date having accepted the charge.

O'Connor faces a fine on the lesser charge of possession, Paris police sources said.

Initial indications from the police investigation suggest Williams bought the drug, although he tested negative for it, while O'Connor, who tested positive, was not involved in the alleged purchase.

Ali Williams is expected to appear in court at a later sate. Photo: Getty ImagesPlain-clothes officers saw Williams in a car with two suspected drug dealers while O'Connor was outside and appeared to be acting as a lookout, police said.

When they were challenged, Williams allegedly attempted to get rid of the cocaine by throwing it away, added a police source who said the two players had clearly been drinking.

Police said 180 euros (AUD $247) changed hands in the deal. The pair were detained along with the suspected dealers.

The two players were interviewed by drugs police officers during their spell in custody.

Racing 92 released a statement on Saturday saying their player Williams had been suspended indefinitely, but Toulon said they would wait before deciding whether to discipline O'Connor.

Williams earned 77 New Zealand caps between 2002 and 2012 and plays in the second row. He was part of the All Black team that won the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

James O'Connor in his last match for the Wallabies, in 2013. Photo: Getty ImagesO'Connor, 26, who plays on the wing or at fullback for Toulon, appeared 44 times for Australia between 2008 and 2013. He made his debut at 18, the second youngest Wallaby in Australian Rugby history.

The 44-Test Wallabies back was recently back in Australia, playing for Toulon in the Brisbane Tens, and spoke of his desire to return to play in Australia, with the Wallabies a goal he has not shied away from.

“I've come back, I feel like I'm a new beast, better player,” he told reporters at the time.

“No one teaches you how to deal with certain things once you become a professional athlete so early. - James O'Connor

“So, for me, it was just about finding that love for the game again and just enjoying myself and the finer things in life.”

O'Connor has not played for an Australian Super Rugby team since playing a season at the Reds in 2015, with a Wallabies jersey last coming in 2013.

He first opted to head overseas after a 2013 incident in Perth Airport, where the then-23-year-old was removed from the airport by Australian Federal Police, when he was set to board a flight after a Wallabies win over Argentina.

That followed his release from the Melbourne Rebels, the second Super Rugby franchise he played for, after switching from the Force.

Toulon’s next match is against Brive on March 5, with any punishment for O’Connor possibly opening the door for former NRL player Ben Barba to step into the matchday 23, an ironic twist given Barba is currently suspended from the NRL over cocaine use.

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