Locker Bastien Chalureau has denied accusations he is being racist after being called up to cover injuries for France’s World Cup squad.

The 31-year-old is appealing a six-month prison sentence for a racially motivated assault in 2020.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Montpellier’s Chalureau said: “I’m not a racist”.

He was added to the France squad by head coach Fabien Galthie to replace injured Paul Willemse.

“What I want to tell you is that I confessed my mistakes, paid my debts and denied any claims of racist comments,” added Chalureau, 31.

Selected six times by his country, he said the technical staff of the Blues were aware of the incident.

“We discussed it with the staff of the France team,” he added. “They knew it from the start. It is an old case and known to many people.

“I wanted to go out in public and speak to all my teammates and my family because it doesn’t just affect me, it affects my family.

“That’s why I wanted to appear before you, to clarify the situation.

“I’m not racist, I bring people together. The beauty of rugby is that it brings people together from all communities. »

Chalureau was convicted of assaulting two other players, Yannick Larguet and Nassim Arif, after a night out in 2020, with the Toulouse court ruling that the assault was motivated by the race of the victims.

Lock admitted to the assault but denied it was racially motivated. He was released by Toulouse and later joined current club Montpellier.

While having lunch with the team on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron was heard on the microphone telling head coach Galthie: “We don’t want the controversy to get out of control.”

Chalureau’s comments come after World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin also spoke out on the matter earlier on Monday.

“There is absolutely no place for discrimination in rugby and certainly no place for racism,” he said.

“It is important to recognize that we have to follow due process. »

Chalureau made his Test debut last November but former France captain Thierry Dusautoir says he was never in favor of playing for the national team.

“I’ve always had a problem with him being part of the France team,” Dusautoir, who led France to the 2011 World Cup final and is a friend of France, told Canal Plus. one of the victims.

“I am aware that I am not objective in this area. »

France will host New Zealand in the opening match of the 2023 World Cup on Friday September 8 as they seek to win the tournament for the first time in their history.

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