tragic kayak trip for Fabrice Labarrière and Raphaël Ibañez

“He was Rafa’s brother. Jean-Philippe Coyola’s voice cracks. On the night of this Monday, April 11, the rugby coach of the US Dax juniors, champions of France Reichel in 1993, learned of the death of Fabrice Labarrière. Accompanied by Raphaël Ibañez, his lifelong friend, the former second row of this team drowned in a kayak in the waters of a Spanish torrent, without the possibility of rescue.

“He was Rafa’s brother. Jean-Philippe Coyola’s voice cracks. On the night of this Monday, April 11, the rugby coach of the US Dax juniors, champions of France Reichel in 1993, learned of the death of Fabrice Labarrière. Accompanied by Raphaël Ibañez, his lifelong friend, the former second row of this team drowned in a kayak in the waters of a Spanish torrent, without the possibility of rescue.

“They had been planning this outing for about a month,” continues Jean-Philippe Coyola. He is one of the few who has the strength to express himself. Astonishment still embraces the friends of the deceased, a father domiciled in Indre-et-Loire, as well as the relatives of the manager of the XV de France. Both entered their forty-ninth year of life, they had spoken from the playground of the primary school of Saugnac-et-Cambran, before sharing the basketballs of Blac (Basket Luy Adour club) and then rugby, under the colors of Dax. .

From Blac de Saugnac to Mérignac


Fabrice Labarrière and Raphaël Ibañez were part of the Dax Reichel US junior team that became champions of France on June 7, 1993, against Grenoble.

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After the USD and this title of French champion – won against Grenoble (17-7) at the Pierre-Corbarieu stadium in Toulouse on June 7, 1993 – Fabrice Labarrière had played for Saint-Paul-Sport , before retiring. to start a professional life, as a business.

An EDF employee since 2003, who became a staff representative of the CFE-CGC union, Fabrice Labarrière was known for his “crazy on the ground” qualities, as much as for being a particularly nice person on the outside. Since his passion for rugby remained, he had finally put on his crampons at two Gironde rugby clubs. “He took his last licenses at Mérignac, from 2006 to 2008, and at Bazas, for the 2004 season”, says Jean-Marc Degos, one of the leaders who accompanied the epic of these former Reichel Dacquois juniors.

“Fabro and Rafa” had never really separated, despite the distance and their respective occupations

“Fabro and Rafa” had never really separated, despite the distance and their respective occupations. Strengthened by a friendship knowing that they are protected from periods of silence, the two men nevertheless used to share a moment with their former associates at the Dax fairs each August.

Fabrice Labarrière (top right) and former US Dax Reichel team players, champion of France in 1993, would meet during dacquoise fairs.

Fabrice Labarrière (top right) and former US Dax Reichel team players, champion of France in 1993, would meet during dacquoise fairs.

Photo US Dax

“Last year they cycled from Hossegor to Mimizan, confesses Jean-Philippe Coyola. They had stopped to see me at home, in Moliets. We had lunch with the louvines that had been fished; before getting back on the road. »

spirit of camaraderie

That same spirit of camaraderie maintained, worthy of a novel that one makes a teenager read, this time pushed the two friends to consider carrying out, once the Six Nations Tournament was over, a kayak descent down the Deva River.

Taking advantage of the holidays at the beginning of this Holy Week, they traveled to the borders of Cantabria and Asturias, where the ancestors of Raphaël Ibañez’s paternal family originate. His ambition was to reach the mouth of the river that flows into the Bay of Biscay, during a route that started from the bridge in the town of La Hermida.

On the morning of this disastrous Monday in early spring, witnesses saw them outfit themselves and prepare their equipment before going into the water, he explains. “The Mountain Diary”. In its edition of this Tuesday, April 12, the Spanish regional newspaper recounts the tragedy that occurred downriver, about 800 meters away. Despite an alert given at 10 am, it was not until 4:30 pm that the lifeless body of Fabrice Labarrière could be removed from the waters of the torrent.

As someone close to Raphaël Ibañez explains, the coach of the XV de France “did everything possible to save him, but in vain”. The force of the current, accentuated by the melting of Sunday’s ice, carried his companion towards a rapid with permanent eddies.

“The Tears of Don Pelayo”

In order to be able to intervene in a section of the river that is difficult to access from the national highway 621 that leads to this water course, an important search system has been established under the authority of the Spanish Civil Guard. A helicopter attended the scene, as well as another from the Government of Cantabria.

Specialized Civil Guard teams went to the rocks of the

Specialized Civil Guard teams went to the “Tears of Don Pelayo” rocks, not far from La Hermida, to remove the lifeless body of the drowned man from the water.

Photo Spanish Civil Guard

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