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French manager apologises to New Zealand

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France manager Jo Maso on Thursday issued sincere apologies to the New Zealand authorities and admitted centre Mathieu Bastareaud had concocted his story about being beaten up by thugs in Wellington.


“We defended our player but unfortunately he lied to everybody,” Maso said, expressing official regrets to New Zealand and others involved in the incident.


“They, like us, were duped… We are shattered by what has happened and we will see what decisions are needed on the part of the (French Rugby) federation and national selectors,” he told reporters in Sydney where the France XV is preparing for Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies.


“This is a great shame because the prime minister (New Zealand premier John Key) had issued a letter of apology. It is regrettable and I am profoundly hurt.”


France coach Marc Lievremont said: “I feel sorry for him in the same way as I felt sorry when the first version came out.”


“I hope his family and his closest ones, as well as his club and the Federation will do what they can to help a 20-year-old young lad who completely lost it.”


Bastareaud initially claimed he had been attacked by four to 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.


Later, a revised version aiming to “tell the truth” by Bastareaud appeared on the Stade Francais website.

 

“On Saturday evening, I returned to the hotel after having drunk too much,” it quoted the player as saying.

“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 told 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.”


Bastareaud flew home to France earlier this week.

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