Bastareaud dropped from France squad after anti-gay slur

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France's Mathieu Bastareaud warms up during a training session at the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis, south of Paris.

France's Mathieu Bastareaud warms up during a training session at the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis, south of Paris. (Photo: AP)

PARIS (AP) — France dropped Mathieu Bastareaud from its Six Nations squad Wednesday, shortly after the center was given a three-week suspension for using anti-gay language.

He was replaced in an initial 32-man squad by Jonathan Danty, just two hours after being selected by coach Jacques Brunel for the tournament opener against Ireland on Feb. 3.

Bastareaud was punished for an anti-gay slur during a recent Champions Cup match when playing for French side Toulon. Tournament organizers opened an investigation after the Toulon captain appeared to direct the slur at Italy forward Sebastian Negri on Sunday.

Bastareaud, who apologized, was suspended for three weeks following a disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday.

The French Rugby Federation said it dropped him "following his suspension" and selected Danty in his place. Bastareaud has made 42 test appearances for France.

Brunel named his first squad after replacing Guy Noves, who was fired last month by FFR president Bernard Laporte following poor results against New Zealand and South Africa.

Brunel recalled scrumhalf Morgan Parra and winger Benjamin Fall.

Parra was a mainstay when France won the Grand Slam in 2010 and reached the Rugby World Cup final a year later.

The last of his 66 appearances came during France's 62-13 loss to New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinals.

Fall last played for France five years ago in a Six Nations loss at England.

Brunel's first squad also contained 10 players under the age of 23 — among them 19-year-old flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert. He has impressed for Bordeaux-Begles in the French Top 14 league this season.

Brunel used to coach Bordeaux-Begles before being named France coach, and helped launch Jalibert's career.

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