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french rugby player admits making up ‘assault’

June 26, 2009
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Please note this was in 2009!

France centre admits making up ‘assault’ The Times June 26, 2009

(Scroll down to see addition – from CNN – on 1st July re French Prime Minister apologising to New Zealand)

Mathieu Bastareaud, the France centre who claimed that he had been attacked because of his nationality last weekend while on tour to New Zealand, has admitted to lying.

The 20-year-old Stade Français back caused a diplomatic incident after he suffered a broken eye socket, facial cuts and severe bruising. John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister, and Kerry Prendergast, the Mayor of Wellington, wrote letters of apology to the France team immediately after the “attack” and rugby and tourism officials feared that New Zealand’s reputation had been damaged.

Bastareaud, who has since flown back to France, had claimed that he was the victim of an unprovoked attack in Wellington early on Sunday morning, but has now said that the injuries were caused by a drunken fall in his hotel room.

Prendergast said that New Zealand and its capital city were owed an apology by France team officials.

“I have to say that passing it off as an inexperienced, young player isn’t good enough,” the mayor said yesterday. “There was clearly collusion. There were other players involved, the team doctor was involved, the coach [was involved] because [Bastareaud] got sent back so quickly. This is wider than just one player and I think we need an apology.

“My understanding is that other players knew about it, so we can’t just say that this is one player.

“Clearly the doctor who did the stitching and the fact that he was sent back . . . other people knew.”

Prendergast said that Wellington police had also been suspicious from an early stage about the French version of events.

“I know from the start . . . [police] had their suspicions about the story, they were keen to get to the bottom of it and I congratulate them for doing it so quickly,” she said.

The New Zealand union (NZRU) expressed “outrage” that Bastareaud’s claim had “cast a negative light on rugby, Wellington and New Zealand”.

Steve Tew, the NZRU chief executive, said: “Like all New Zealanders, I am extremely disappointed with this series of events and will be expressing that concern to the French rugby federation (FFR).

“We share the concerns of Mayor Prendergast and Wellington area police at the distress, negative publicity and the unnecessary concern this has caused for many people — and will be talking further about this with the FFR.”

POST SCRIPT 1st july 09

(CNN) — French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has apologized to his opposite number in New Zealand, John Key, over the recent “unacceptable behavior” of France rugby center Mathieu Bastareaud.

 

Bastareaud has now been hospitalized after the furor surrounding his false claim of assault in New Zealand.

Bastareaud has now been hospitalized after the furor surrounding his false claim of assault in New Zealand.

The 20-year-old Stade Francais player, who is the cousin of Arsenal defender William Gallas, has been hospitalized with psychiatric problems after lying over an alleged assault outside the team hotel in Wellington — following France’s 14-10 defeat against the All Blacks on June 20.

Fillon told Key in a letter: “France’s tour of New Zealand has been marked by the unacceptable behavior of one of our players.

“Our two countries share the culture of rugby. This sport has always allowed us to meet and to share a mutual respect. I hope that these sentiments will continue after this regrettable affair.”

Bastareaud’s claim that he was attacked by four or five men outside the hotel shocked New Zealand and led to an apology from Key.

But video evidence showed the player had entered the hotel on Sunday morning uninjured and had gone into his room 25 minutes later.

 

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Meanwhile, Bastareaud, who was admitted to hospital on Monday, received support from the French players’ union Provale.

“We, professional rugby players, lend our friendship and support to Mathieu Bastereaud and his family,” Provale said in a statement.

French Rugby Federation (FRF) president Pierre Camou also offered his apology to New Zealand over the affair that blighted France’s All Black tour.

A FRF statement declared: “To be an international carries with it responsibility as a representative of your country and your federation.

“The FRF is shocked that one of the French team has lied. The New Zealand nation and the world of rugby can legitimately feel wounded by the player’s initial statements which have also tarnished the image of French rugby.”

Bastareaud returned home early from the tour to treat his facial injuries as the rest of the French squad travelled on to Australia and on his return issued an apology saying he believed he had to tell the truth following the media furore.

He said that instead of being assaulted he had in fact sustained the bruises to his face after a drunken fall in his hotel room.

Bastareaud, who had been due to go on a family holiday to the Caribbean this week, is expected to stay in hospital for at least a fortnight under observation.

 

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