Ex-France forward Diarra dies at 36

Ibrahim Diarra won a Top 14 title with Castres in 2013

Former France back-rower Ibrahim Diarra has died at the age of 36 following a heart attack, sources close to the player told AFP on Wednesday.

Diarra, who made his only Test appearance against Italy in 2008, had been in a Paris hospital in a critical condition since Friday after having suffered a cardiac arrest.

Those near to the former Top 14 champion said he then suffered numerous strokes which had caused irreversible brain damage.

Diarra started his professional career with Montauban before spending seven seasons with Castres, where he won the French title in 2013 and retired five years later.

"I am devastated that he could go so soon. We will always remember his smile, and an eternal memory of a great rugby player. My most sincere condolences to the family and those close to Ibrahim Diarra," the French Rugby Federation's president Bernard Laporte said on Twitter.

Diarra's former coach at Montauban, Laurent Travers also paid tribute to him.

"He brought laughter and a ray of sunshine. He gave everything on the field," Travers told AFP.

Ibrahim Diarra won a Top 14 title with Castres in 2013