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Bastareaud case shocks French rugby

30/06/2009 08:01:19 PM Comments (0)

French rugby was reeling on Tuesday following the news that disgraced centre Mathieu Bastareaud had been hospitalised with serious psychological problems following the New Zealand tour scandal.

The 20-year-old Stade Francais player is at the centre of a furious row after admitting he had invented a story about being assaulted outside the team hotel in Wellington following France's 14-10 defeat in the second Test against the All Blacks on June 20.

"Bastareaud cracks up," headlined L'Equipe sports daily on its front page on Tuesday.

"What should have been an incident with no consequences has instead turned into a drama," the paper continued.

"Crushed by the weight of his own lies, Mathieu Bastareaud has been hospitalised after what might have been an attempt at suicide."

The player's original charge of being attacked and hit on the face by four or five men outside the hotel shocked New Zealand and led to an apology from Prime Minister John Key.

But police investigations into the matter found video evidence that the player had entered the team hotel on Sunday morning uninjured and had gone into his room 25 minutes later.

Bastareaud returned home early from the tour to treat his facial injuries as the rest of the French squad travelled on to Australia and, shocked by the turn of events, he issued an apology saying he believed he had to tell the truth following the wide media coverage the alleged assault had received.

Instead he said he had sustained the bruises to his face after a drunken fall in his hotel room.

He said he had invented the assault story to avoid being sent home by the French team management and upsetting his family, who are deeply religious.

Bastareaud had been scheduled to go on a family holiday to the Caribbean this week, but instead he was taken to hospital on Monday and is expected to stay there for at least a fortnight under observation.

Stade Francais chairman Max Guazzini said the massive press interest in the affair had left the player totally devastated.

"Journalists have even gone to his house and that of his parents," said Guazzini.

"He is completely devastated, he has to be left alone."

There was no immediate comment from the French Rugby Federation who have already issued an apology to the New Zealand people while launching disciplinary procedures.

In his defence, former international winger Christophe Dominici, who is now coach at Stade Francais said: "He does not understand what has hit him. He has been taken aback by the level it has reached.

"He got back drunk to the hotel, tried to take off his jeans and fell heavily on to a table. Thats all there is to it. How many other rugby players have done this?

"He then wanted to hide a stupid mistake, because he was frightened. It has all got out of hand. He has to be left alone. After all he didn't kill anyone."

Bastareaud is seen as one of the rising stars of French rugby having bursting on to the international scene during this year's Six Nations tournament.

The French coaching set-up were grooming him to be a key player for them in the next World Cup which takes place in New Zealand in 2011.

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