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Page last updated at 18:43 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 19:43 UK

Bastareaud punished over claims

Mathieu Bastareaud
Bastareaud said he panicked after a drunken fall in his hotel room

France centre Mathieu Bastareaud has received a three-month suspension for falsely claiming he was assaulted while on tour in New Zealand.

The 21-year-old's ban was commuted to rugby-related community service by the French Rugby Federation (FFR).

Bastareaud alleged he was set upon by a group of men outside his hotel after France's 14-10 defeat by the All Blacks in Wellington on 20 June.

But he later admitted he had lied to cover up a drink-related facial injury.

Wellington police 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.

Stade Francais back Bastareaud admitted he received a cut and bruised face after a drunken fall in his room.

He said at the time: "I was ashamed and panicked and I thought I would be sent packing by the team management.

"I recounted the (false) story because I thought it would be believed, but given the coverage it subsequently received, I thought it would be better to tell the truth."

His original claims led to an apology on behalf of New Zealand by Prime Minister John Key, but the Kiwi premier later received an apology himself for Bastareaud's conduct from French PM Francois Fillon.

The FFR said Bastareaud would have to complete 18 activities related to amateur rugby before 30 June 2010, or face having the suspension enforced.

France coach Marc Lievremont described the punishment as "a good sanction" and said Bastareaud would not figure in his team's three autumn Tests.

"With this sanction, he again becomes a player like any other, even if it seems complicated to pick him for the November Tests, as I have told him.

"But I never envisaged that we'd be without him for the 2011 Rugby World Cup (in New Zealand)."

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see also
Bastareaud retracts assault story
25 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
New Zealand 14-10 France
20 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union

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