Saturday 15 December 2018

French star Mathieu Bastareaud could miss Six Nations following homophobic slur

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

Jack de Menezes

Mathieu Bastareaud is under investigation by European Professional Club Rugby after the France international was overheard making an alleged homophobic slur during Toulon's 36-0 victory over Benetton, although he has claimed that he was responding to an insult from second-row Sebastian Negri.

Bastareaud has apologised for his comments, which were picked up on referee Luke Pearce's microphone, when the Toulon centre appeared to say "f***ing f****t" late in the European Champions Cup encounter.

EPCR issued a quick statement to confirm that the matter had been reported and that an investigation will take place.

"EPCR has been made aware of an incident towards the end of today's RC Toulon v Benetton Rugby Champions Cup match," read the statement. "The Citing Commissioner is considering the incident as part of his routine review of the match, and will make a decision when he has concluded his enquiries."

Bastareaud soon issued a statement of his own on Twitter to apologise for his slur, but claimed that Negri had insulted him first and it is understood that Bastareaud has claimed that it was in relation to the colour of his skin.

"Good evening everybody, I want to apologise for my response to the insults of the Italian player," Bastareaud wrote. "I reacted badly in responding to his provocation, I am sincerely sorry to the people I have offended."

Under World Rugby's current rules, Law 9.12 states that any player found guilty of verbally abusing anyone that "includes, but is not limited to, abuse based on: religion, colour, national or ethnic origin and sexual orientation" risks a ban of between six and 52 weeks, with the mid-entry and top-entry points being 12 and 18 weeks respectively.

Previous cases of a similar nature saw South African forward Jacques Potgieter fined 20,000 Australian dollars in 2015 after being found guilty of using the word "f****t" while playing for the Waratahs against the Brumbies, but he avoided a ban at the time.

Bastareaud scored in the match as Toulon recorded a comfortable bonus-point victory that takes them to the top of Pool Five ahead of the Scarlets. Wing Josua Tuisova added two tries, while Anthony Belleau and Hugop Bonneval completed the five-try rout that sets up a winner-takes-all shootout for top spot between the two sides at Parc y Scarlets next weekend.

Elsewhere in Pool Three, Leinster recorded an emphatic 55-19 victory over Glasgow Warriors at the RDS Arena in Dublin to cement their status as Champions Cup favourites and secure top spot in Pool Three, plus a home quarter-final to boot. Leinster captain Isa Nacewa scored twice along with Australian forward Scott Fardy, with Sean Cronin, Jordi Murphy, Johnny Sexton and James Lowe also crossing in the eight-try rout.

Glasgow's response came through two tries for wing Niko Matawalu and one for No 8 Adam Ashe, but the Warriors are already destined to finish bottom of the group and were no match for the in-form Irish province.

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