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Bastien Chalureau (French team): “I am not racist”

“Was your speech planned or did the meeting with President Emmanuel Macron change everything today?
No way. The controversy that revolves around my name, it’s been several years. I totally refute the accusations from day one. It is I who have chosen to come and speak to you to clarify the situation.

You have always denied the racist remarks of which you are accused. Can you confirm this today and what do you want to say to the deputies who are asking for your exclusion?
What I can tell you is that from day one I confessed my mistakes, paid my debts with violence and I denied any racist remarks. I am not and I do not belong to these values.

In what state of mind are you since your return from the group following the injury of Paul Willemse last week?
I arrived in the group on an injury to a teammate and a friend. I sent him my support the next day. I feel sorry for him. I came back to the group with a desire to bring my energy, fight and seek the Holy Grail together in competition.

“There is a controversy around my name. After that it doesn’t affect anyone in the group […] It’s not one more fire that will separate us.”

What has been the reaction of your teammates in recent days? And how does the group get through this controversy?
There is a controversy around my name. After that it doesn’t affect anyone in the group. A group has been created for four years and the beginning of the mandate of Fabien (Galthié) who adds players as and when. We have known each other for a very long time. We went through the France pole together, teams from France together. It’s not one more fire that will separate us.

On a personal level, how have you been living this controversy for three days? Can you concentrate on the pitch?
I am a professional rugby player. Justice makes its procedure. I refer to justice and I focus on the field. That’s all to do with Friday’s game

To be very clear, what is your attitude towards racist remarks and anyone who would hold it?
What I can tell you, I’m not racist. I’ve been denying it since day one. I have refuted these charges. I’m not racist, that’s all.

“It doesn’t just affect me, it affects my family. That’s why I wanted to speak in front of you to completely clarify the situation.”

Have you made a big questioning since this case? What has happened since?
Of course there was a questioning. Sometimes there are errors in the course. Following the altercation in Toulouse, I went before the judge, I was sentenced for violence, I paid, I accepted my sanction. I admitted it from day one, I totally refuted the accusations about racism. Afterwards, I questioned myself in terms of rugby because I changed clubs. I had to prove myself again and win my place in Montpellier. And it went pretty well. And here I am today in front of you.

Have you considered leaving the band? And why did you make it a point of honor to speak to the press?
We discussed with the staff of the France team who knew it from the start. The procedure is old and known to many people. I wanted to speak in front of you to address all my teammates, my family. (He stops and starts crying). It doesn’t just affect me, it affects my family. That’s why I wanted to speak in front of you to completely clarify the situation. I’m not a racist, I’m a unifier. Rugby is a sport with the union of many communities, that’s what makes the beauty of sport with different characters, different physics. »

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