New Zealand PM plays down Bastareaud row - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

New Zealand PM plays down Bastareaud row

02/07/2009 02:49:22 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key on Thursday said it was time for his country and France to move on after his French counterpart Francois Fillon apologised over the Mathieu Bastareaud controversy.

"At the end of the day we need to put it in perspective and say the matter's now been dealt with," Key said. "We need to move on now."

Fillon apologised in a letter sent on Tuesday for the "unacceptable behaviour" of French rugby player Bastareaud.

The 20-year-old last week admitted he had made up a story about being assaulted by up to five people in a street attack in Wellington following France's 14-10 second Test defeat by the All Blacks on June 20.

Key described the incident as "unfortunate" and "regrettable", and said it was appropriate Fillon had written the letter, so both countries could deal with the issue.

"I think from New Zealand's point of view, it's important now that we put the matter behind us," Key told Radio New Zealand.

Fillon told Key in the letter: "France's tour of New Zealand has been marked by the unacceptable behaviour of one of its players."

Bastareaud's original allegation that he had been attacked outside France's Wellington hotel led to an apology to the team from Key.

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

"By his false statements, as a result of which you had to intervene publicly, he seriously tainted the image of your country and its people," Fillon told Key.

Bastareaud admitted last week he had not been assaulted in the street and said he had received a cut and bruised 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.

The player was on Monday admitted to hospital suffering serious psychological problems.

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