NZ press make spitting claims against French player
It’s not only the English rugby team that get into trouble off the field in New Zealand, with members of the French squad believed to have been involved in an unsavoury incident prior to their departure from the country.
A number of Marc Liveremont’s squad were allegedly involved in an incident in Auckland in which a press photographer claims he was spat at by lock Pascal Papé, while another claims he was slapped in the face by an unidentified player.
The incident is believed have occurred outside Pastis restaurant in Auckland where a number of the French team were having lunch before being interrupted by a press photographer.
The photographer is believed to have persisted in his attempts to get some snaps of the French players in the restaurant before an altercation occurred, although accounts of what exactly went on are suspiciously sketchy.
A spokesman for the French team said that the photographer was told ''please leave (us) alone'' and ''not to take a picture of us'' and to leave.
''After that the photographer continued, he was asked to leave... I'm not sure what happened then,'' he added.
The owner and manager of the restaurant confirmed that 10 members of the French squad were present at the restaurant between 1pm and 3pm for what he called “a very friendly party."
He added that he heard from the maître d' at that one of the players went outside to confront a media photographer who was taking pictures through an open window, but that that was the last he had heard of the incident.
Footage broadcast on NZTV showed Pape being steered away from the road-side by teammate Fulgence Ouedraogo, while New Zealand Herald photographer Dean Purcell was shown standing outside the restaurant with team members and asking for his memory card back.
Papé was asked by a reporter if he spat on the photographer, but responded by saying: "I don't speak English, sorry."
This latest episode of alleged bad behaviour comes only a day after another incident involving French players at a bar in Auckland which is believed to have left a number of staff members in tears.
Owner of the Kermadec bar in Auckland, Hamish Klein, brushed it off as a storm in the teacup after French players were refused alcohol ahead of the IRB awards dinner, but there were numerous reports on Twitter that bar staff were left in tears as a result of the behaviour of the French squad.
''The bar manager stopped serving... no one was removed and the manager of the federation (French rugby union) was quick to step in and sort it out,'' said Klein, while a spokesman for the team said he didn’t “know anything about it''.
Having endeared themselves to the world following their courageous performance in defeat to the All-Blacks on Sunday, Les Bleus are undoing all of their hard work and becoming the team the public love to hate once again.
But being so moody and indifferent as they are, maybe that’s the way like it.