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Contrite Bastareaud apologises for Wellington assault lie

Text by Thibault LIEURADE , Emmanuel VERSACE

Latest update : 2009-10-27

French rugby international Mathieu Bastareaud has offered a public apology for falsely claiming this summer that he had been assaulted in New Zealand.

Accompanied by his club president, Max Guazzini, the imposing 21-year-old centre Mathieu Bastareaud has apologised in public for lying about an assault he supposedly suffered last June in New Zealand.

“Again, I would like to apologise to all those concerned: my federation, New Zealand, the staff, the players and everyone else who was affected by my stupid act”, the French international declared.

Bastareaud initially claimed that he had been set upon by unknown assailants in the street but was forced to retract his claims.

Wellington police found CCTV evidence that the player had entered the team hotel on the morning after France's 14-10 defeat to the All Blacks uninjured and had gone to his room 25 minutes later.

Bastareaud finally admitted he had not been assaulted, but had instead cut and bruised his face after a drunken fall in his room.

He said he had made up the story of the assault in order to avoid being sent home by the French team management and upsetting his family. But some speculated he could have been involved in a fight with some of his teammates.

Not scared to return to New Zealand

Bastareaud said he had returned late to the hotel "in a rather disreputable state" and fell in his room. He added that claims he had been involved in a punch-up with teammates were "complete nonsense".

Though the player had been sentenced to carry out community service as punishment, French manager Marc Lievremont had recently expressed his desire to see the player go public about the incident. Bastareaud had already apologised in a press release on his club website, but had never done so in public.

The Stade français centre is now hoping to turn the page swiftly. On Wednesday, he will know whether he will take part in France's autumn test games. In the meantime, he says he is not scared to return to New Zealand, where the next World Cup takes place in 2011.

Date created : 2009-10-27

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