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Mathieu Bastareaud set to miss Six Nations clash with Ireland after three-week ban for verbal abuse

Mathieu Bastareaud is back in the France squad to face Ireland next Saturday. Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images
Mathieu Bastareaud is back in the France squad to face Ireland next Saturday. Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

France international centre Mathieu Bastareaud has received a three-week ban for verbally abusing an opponent.

Toulon star Bastareaud was cited following the European Champions Cup clash against Italian side Benetton last Sunday.

He seemed to direct homophobic abuse at Benetton forward Sebastian Negri, appearing to call him a "f***ing f*****".

Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby convened a disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday, and announced Bastareaud's suspension, which means he will miss France's NatWest 6 Nations opener against Ireland on February 3.

Bastareaud, 29, had been named a in a 32-man squad by new Les Bleus head coach Jacques Brunel for that game.

Bastareaud, who has won 42 caps, pleaded guilty to the offence, and he must also sit out Toulon's win-or-bust Champions Cup against the Scarlets on Saturday.

In a statement, EPCR said: "Bastareaud was cited by the match citing commissioner, Dennis Jones (Wales), for verbally abusing the Benetton Rugby flanker, Sebastian Negri Da Oleggio, in the 80th minute of the match in contravention of Law 9.12.

"An independent disciplinary committee consisting of Rod McKenzie (Scotland), Jennifer Donovan (Ireland) and Becky Essex (England) heard evidence and submissions from Bastareaud, who pleaded guilty to the charge, from the player's legal representative, Philip Fitzgerald, and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan.

"Following an adjournment, the committee upheld the citing complaint as it determined that the nature of the verbal abuse warranted a red card.

"It found that the offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions, and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.

"As there were no aggravating factors, and taking into account the player's guilty plea, the committee then reduced the sanction by the maximum permitted of 50 per cent before imposing a suspension of three weeks."

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