Sport Rugby

Saturday 24 February 2018

Gatland offers his backing for Welsh scrumhalf sacked by Bayonne

Bayonne's Mike Phillips.
Bayonne's Mike Phillips.
Warren Gatland says Phillips is working on his troubles

WALES coach Warren Gatland has offered support to Mike Phillips after the scrumhalf was sacked by French club Bayonne for attending a video analysis session while under the influence of alcohol.

The 31-year-old, capped 77 times by Wales and five times by the British and Irish Lions, has said he will take legal action against the club after finding out about his sacking in a French newspaper.

Gatland said he had spoken to Phillips on Monday and offered his support in dealing with off-field issues.

"He's aware he's not perfect and we do a lot of things to support him as much as we can," Gatland said.

"All I can comment on is the way he conducted himself on the Lions tour - he was great."

Phillips has joined up with the national squad for the November tests against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia.

"He reiterated exactly what's been said in the statement in terms of being very disappointed and taking legal action," Gatland added.

"I suppose for us it's just waiting to see what happens.

"I think in the last season or two he's been fantastic in the Welsh squad and I'm sure that in this campaign he'll do very well.

"Let's not hide away from the fact there's been issues in the past and he's aware of that and I think he's working hard to try and address some of those things. I'm confident that he'll be great for us in this campaign."

Phillips joined Bayonne from Ospreys in 2011, and was suspended last year for off-field misconduct.

He was reported to have turned up to the video session under the influence of alcohol, along with New Zealand team mates Dwayne Haare and Stephen Brett, who were fined but not suspended.

"As a result of discussions with my legal team in France I have now instructed them to issue proceedings against Aviron Bayonnais Rugby Club," Phillips said in a statement on Monday.

"I am extremely disappointed and frustrated by the decision taken by Aviron Bayonnais Rugby Club to terminate my employment.

"I was also disappointed by the fact that I officially heard about my dismissal through an interview given in a French newspaper this morning.

"I wish to thank my team mates and the many friends I have made in the Basque Country for their help and kindness over the past two seasons."


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