French rugby star Sébastien Chabal will be allowed to play for the Racing-Metro team in Saturday's Top 14 semi-final against Montpellier, after his suspension for making critical comments of the competition’s referees was commuted.
AFP - France rugby icon Sebastien Chabal has been cleared to play for Racing-Metro in Saturday's Top 14 semi-final against Montpellier after having a suspension reduced on appeal, club president Jacky Lorenzetti told AFP on Tuesday.
"The Federation's appeal commission has decided to amend Sebastian Chabal's punishment," said Lorenzetti, who did not specify how much the suspension had been reduced by.
"It has been revised to the extent that he can play in the semi-final."
Chabal, capped 62 times and France's most recognisable and marketable player for the past few years, said that he had felt he had been given a fair appeal hearing.
"Today, I feel as if I have got back my job," said Chabal, who has also been ordered to promote rugby at grassroots level, refereeing youth matches, taking part in a seminar with senior referees and also be present at youth tournmaments all over France.
"I finally had the feeling today at the appeal hearing that they were listening to what I had to say.
"The debate, presided over by a former referee, was a dignified one. Each party had their say."
It is a rare piece of good news for 33-year-old Chabal, who was initially slapped with a 60-day ban - 30 of them suspended - for comments he made criticising Top 14 referees, days before his biography was published, having been found guilty of 'harming rugby's interests'.
Chabal, who has also been left out of France's World Cup squad, had told the Journal Du Dimanche in an interview to publicise his book that "Top 14 referees are hopeless".
The 62-times capped backrow forward claimed that they favoured Castres, whose former president is the Rugby National League (LNR) supremo Pierre-Yves Revol, and Biarritz, which is run by Revol's predecessor at the LNR, Serge Blanco.
"I think that the appeal judge has put the seriousness of the error into its proper context," said Lorenzetti.
"He has taken into account both Sebastien's offence and also the overall positive impact he has had on French rugby.
"I think it is justified to allow him to display his talent in the play-offs."
Date created : 2011-05-25