A former rugby player originally from South Africa was attacked in the bar he owned in Perpignan, southern France, and died from his injuries, police said Friday.

Barend Britz, 63, a legendary lock for local club Perpignan, was attacked by a man who entered the bar late Thursday, according to police and fire services.

The man, who has been arrested, turned on Britz after the owner of the establishment, Bar and Britz, tried to stop him vandalising the premises.

Britz played provincial rugby in South Africa before joining Perpignan and helping the club win the 1994 French Cup.

Colleagues, friends and rugby fans left flowers and lit candles outside the entrance to the bar as French rugby officials paid tribute to Britz.

“It is very sad that his story ends in this way,” said Paul Goze, the president of French rugby’s National League.

Goze was the president of Perpignan when Britz, a married father of two, first joined the club in 1982-83 before returning to play from 1990-96.

“He was one of the great figures of rugby in the Catalan region,” he added

Paul Froissart, Perpignan coach from 1992-1997 said: “He brought us serenity and security. He was the cornerstone of the pack.

“He never complained and was always ready to sacrifice himself for the good of all.”