New Zealand officials are furious after French centre Mathieu Bastareaud admitted he had lied about being attacked by thugs in a Wellington.
Police had been investigating claims that Bastareaud was assaulted when he was returning to the team hotel after a few drinks with team-mates after France’s defeat to the All Blacks last Saturday.
But, in a statement on Stade Francais’s website, he admitted he had made the story up after a drunken fall in his hotel room, cutting his face on a table.
‘I was ashamed and panicked and I thought I would be sent packing by the team management,’ said Bastareaud.
Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast said she was angry about the damage news of the alleged assault had done to the city’s reputation.
‘This has always had the potential of damaging our reputation not only nationally but internationally, particularly ahead of hosting the Rugby World Cup [in 2011],’ said Prendergast.
‘I’m outraged. I’m sure all New Zealanders are,’ she told Radio New Zealand.
Bastareaud said in his statement he believed he had to tell the truth following the wide media coverage the alleged assault received.