French PM writes letter of apology
Telegraph (UK) reports:
01 Jul 2009
Mathieu Bastareaud lie over assault prompts French Prime Minister to apologise
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has written a letter of apology to his New Zealand equivalent, John Key, after France centre Mathieu Bastareaud admitted to lying about an assault in Wellington last month.
In his letter, Fillon told Key: "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 said that he "regretted this incident" and added: "Our two countries share the culture of rugby.
"This sport has always allowed us to meet and to share a mutual respect. I hope that these sentiments will continue after this regrettable affair."
Bastareaud meanwhile has been admitted to hospital with what has been reported as serious psychological problems after the worldwide interest into the incident affected his mental state.
The Stade Francais centre, who had been due to go on a family holiday to the Caribbean this week, is expected to stay in hospital for at least a fortnight under observation.
The 20-year-old, who made his debut for France last year, has been backed by the French players' union, Provale, who issued a statement saying: "We solemnly demand that the media storm which nurtures doubts and fantasies ends immediately. We want above all that his privacy be respected and we hope that he makes a return to the pitch as quickly as possible."
But French Rugby Federation (FRF) president Pierre Camou, was less forgiving and condemned Bastareaud's behaviour.
"To be an international carries with it responsibility as a representative of your country and your federation," a FRF statement read.
"The FRF is shocked that one of the French XV has lied. The New Zealand nation and the world of rugby can legitimately feel wounded by the player's initial statements which have also tarnished the image of French rugby."
Full coverage of L'Affaire Bastareaud, click here.