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Three Of Rugby’s Other Major Off-Field Misdemeanours

READING, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Gavin Henson of Cardiff Blues looks on during the Heineken Cup match between London Irish and Cardiff Blues at the Madejski Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Reading, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Following All Black scrum-half Aaron Smith’s misdemeanour in a Chistchurch airport toilet, we look at three other big off the field misdemeanours.


1. Andy Powell And The Golf buggy Incident

The powerful 23 times capped backrower has courted plenty of controversy during a playing career which has taken in nine clubs thus far.

But the 35-year-old ex-Lion’s most controversial moment undoubtedly came in February 2010 when he drove a golf buggy down the M4 motorway after a night’s drinking following Wales’ dramatic 31-24 win over Scotland.

Feeling peckish, Powell, along with a friend, decided to leave Wales’ Vale of Glamorgan base in a golf buggy at 5.45 in the morning to go to a motorway service station.

The 6ft 4in, 18st 2lb Merthyr No. 8-cum-flanker then drove along the M4 for a mile and a half in the dark, before he was stopped by police at a motorway service station. After being breath-tested, he was found to be nearly twice over the legal drink-drive limit.

PORIRURA, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Wales back row forward Andy Powell passes the ball during a Wales IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 training session at Porirua Park on September 9, 2011 in Porirura, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Former Wales back row forward Andy Powell.


He immediately issued a public apology for his actions but was dropped from the welsh squad for the incident and, following a court case, was given a 15-month driving ban and a £1,000 fine.

Speaking after the case, Brecon-born Powell had this to say (via the BBC):

“I fully accept the decision and sentence of the court.

“In doing so I am mindful of those whom I have let down by my actions and I again offer a full public apology.

“I realise that many young sportsmen and women look up to international rugby players and that some of them may be amused by my antics with a golf buggy.

“However, they should note my regret and be aware that I do not excuse or condone drink driving in any form.”


2. Mathieu Bastareaud And The ‘Fake’ Assault

The mammoth 19st 2lbs France and Toulon centre is known for his battering ram runs and huge physicality.

While touring New Zealand with the French team in the summer of 2009, he found himself at the centre of an assault scandal.

Bastareaud had claimed that he had been attacked by four to five men outside the team hotel in Wellington following a 14-10 second test defeat to the All Blacks. He suffered facial cuts, which required stitches, and a suspected broken eye socket as a result of the incident.

The alleged assault led to then New Zealand prime minister John Key issuing him an apology.

But he retracted his story some days later after being informed that CCTV footage at the hotel showed him returning to the hotel in the early hours without any injuries.

He admitted that he had been out drinking and after returning to his hotel drunk, had fallen over a table in his bedroom and hurt his face.

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 12: Mathieu Bastareaud of France (R) warms up before the France captain's run at Carisbrook on June 12, 2009 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Mathieu Bastareaud of France.


The embarrassed star apologised for the incident claiming that he had invented the story because he was ‘ashamed and panicked,’ and thought he would ‘be sent packing’ by the team management.

In a public apology (via The Press) he had this to say:

“I would like to apologise to the New Zealand Federation, to the city of Wellington, to the French players, the coaching staff, my team, my friends and all of those who were part of the story.”

Following the incident, a French Rugby Federation disciplinary committee handed Bastareaud a community service sentence, after they decided the star had harmed the wider interests of the sport.

He was ordered by the committee to complete 18 activities related to amateur rugby.

The incident became somewhat of a diplomatic incident with then French prime minster Francois Fillon having to apologise to New Zealand for the harm done to the nation’s reputation.


3. Gavin Henson’s Booze-Fuelled Plane Antics

The prodigiously talented double grand slam-winning Welshman has found himself mired in controversy for most of his career, with alcohol pretty often at the root of these incidents.

But perhaps the 33-cap star’s worst moment was his boozy antics when returning on a plane from Glasgow whilst playing for the Cardiff Blues.

The Bristol back had been out drinking in Glasgow following the Blues’ defeat to the Scotsmen and continued doing so on the 7am flight back to the Welsh capital.

During the 90-minute flight he apparently threw ice cubes around the cabin with some cabin crew refusing to serve him due to his antics.

READING, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Gavin Henson of Cardiff Blues looks on during the Heineken Cup match between London Irish and Cardiff Blues at the Madejski Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Reading, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Following this incident, Richard Holland, chief executive of the Blues, made the Bridgend-born star apologise to the flight attendants involved. He was then immediately suspended by the region.

The following day the 2001 IRB Young Player of the Year issued a public apology (via the BBC).

“I have let my teammates, coaches, management, sponsors and indeed my family down with my actions.

“Drinking on that plane was inexcusable and I know that I must take responsibility for it.

“I admit I had been out drinking in Glasgow following our game and had stupidly carried on drinking on the flight, for which I am truly embarrassed about.

“I can see that drinking and behaving inappropriately on that flight as a professional sportsman at 7am has caused offence to members of the public, the Flybe Airline staff and passengers.

“I would like to publicly apologise for drinking on that flight which is inappropriate behaviour.”

After discussions between the Blues management, he was sacked the next day. He was also banned by Flybe for six months.

Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.