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French player lied about assault in NZ

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France international centre Mathieu Bastareaud revised his claims of allegedly being assaulted in Wellington, New Zealand, last Sunday and said on Thursday that in fact he had fallen over a table in his hotel room.


The 20-year-old Stade Francais star had said originally that he had been beaten up by four or five people when he got out of a taxi at his hotel in the early hours of Sunday morning after the 14-10 second Test defeat by New Zealand.


However, the New Zealand press on Thursday claimed that images of Bastareaud – cousin of France and Arsenal defender William Gallas -entering the hotel showed him unscarred and that in fact he had been involved in a ruckus with another team-mate over a girl.


Bastareaud had to return to France instead of moving on with the squad for this weekend’s test with Australia, but he did not make a formal complaint and John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister, was moved to make an apology.


“I have to return to the events in New Zealand,” said Bastareaud in a statement.


“I owe the truth to everybody.”


“On Saturday evening, I returned to the hotel after having drunk too much.”


“I fell in my bedroom and scarred my cheekbone on the table in the room.”


“I was ashamed and panicked and I thought I would be sent packing by the team management.


“I recounted the original story because I thought it would be believed, but given the coverage it has subsequently received I thought it would be better to tell the truth,” added Bastareaud, who on Tuesday had confessed to being stunned by the press interest in the incident.


Bastareaud said that in particular he had not wanted to upset his family, who are deeply religious.


“I did not want my family to be ashamed,” he said.


“I panicked and I dug myself deeper into a hole.


“I would like to apologise to the New Zealand Federation, to the city of Wellington, to the French players, the coaching staff, my team, my friends and all of those who were part of the story.”


Max Guazzini, the flamboyant owner of Stade Francais, also issued a statement saying it was a youthful misadventure.


“It was simply jolly japes by a youngster,” said Guazzini in a statement.


“He had too much to drink, came back to his hotel and fell over the table in his room. He has now gone on holiday to the French West Indies.”


On Thursday New Zealand TV station TV One had claimed that the player had not been assaulted as he had claimed in the street.


“The police recovered the close circuit footage which showed Bastareaud returning uninjured to the hotel in company with two players and two women,” NZPA reported citing the images shown on TV One.

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