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NZ rugby great Williams arrested in Paris

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/02/2017

Former All Black lock Ali Williams and former Australian Test rival James O'Connor have been arrested in Paris for allegedly trying to buy cocaine.

The Paris prosecutor's office confirmed to Associated Press that the pair, who both play in the French Top 14 division, were arrested near a nightclub in the early hours of Saturday morning local time.

Williams, who played 77 Tests from 2002 to 2012, is regarded as one of New Zealand's finest, most athletic locks.

A World Cup winner in 2011, he currently plays for French club champions Racing 92.

The club said a statement that 35-year-old Williams had been suspended as a precautionary measure and apologised to fans for the incident.

"If the investigation confirms (Williams') possession of cocaine and the transaction, it would not only be a crime under the law but also a serious mistake in view of our ethics," said the club, while adding that Williams deserved the presumption of innocence.

O'Connor, 26, plays for southern-based French club Toulon, which hadn't initially commented.

The pair spent the night in a cell after being apprehended by officers from the French Anti-Crime Brigade.

They were allegedly caught handing over about $200 cash to a drug dealer. Two sellers were also arrested.

A judicial source said both players were drunk at the time of their arrest and were not carrying identification papers.

The arrests come a week after another former All Black, Dan Carter, was forced to apologise after being charged with drink-driving.

Carter, a clubmate of Williams, apologised for "a massive error of judgment".

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