France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina has announced his retirement from Test rugby, just 24 hours after he received a costly red card in his country’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to Wales.
Les Bleus’ run in Japan ended on Sunday when Warren Gatland’s team edged a tight encounter 20-19.
France were leading 19-10 when Vahaamahina was dismissed nine minutes into the second half for elbowing Aaron Wainwright, and the 14 men were unable to hang on as Wales avenged their 2011 semi-final loss to the same opponents.
Vahaamahina, 28, has now sent a message to Eurosport Rugbyrama saying he is walking away from international rugby, a decision he claims he reached earlier this year.
“It’s hard, very hard for me today – especially because, as I have planned for several months, it was my last match with the national team,” he said.
“I hadn’t made a public announcement of my retirement but the people impacted by the decision have known since the summer: [France coach] Jacques Brunel, [Clermont Auvergne coach] Franck Azema and several of the players.
“I wanted to have the best possible match and tournament to finish on… perhaps I wanted it too much. My desire and my aggression got the better of me.”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 20, 2019
The lock received his marching orders from referee Jaco Peyper, who is now the subject of a World Rugby investigation after he appeared to mock the man he dismissed in a picture taken with Wales fans.
A photo circulated on social media of Peyper with his elbow raised to a fan’s chin.
France Rugby Federation vice-president Serge Simon demanded an explanation from the South African official.
He tweeted: “This photo if it is true is shocking and explanations will be necessary.”
World Rugby confirmed they are looking into the matter.
“World Rugby is aware of a picture on social media of referee Jaco Peyper with a group of Wales fans taken after last night’s [Sunday’s] quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita,” the governing body said.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts.”
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