Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Phillips hit with suspension

Mike Phillips has landed himself in hot water

Bayonne have suspended their Wales international scrum-half Mike Phillips until further notice.

The French Top 14 club announced on their official website that 30-year-old Phillips would also face a financial penalty. Bayonne said on Thursday that Phillips had suffered a hand injury and would be sidelined for at least a fortnight, but Friday's development appears to have changed that.

Phillips' Bayonne colleague, France international wing Cedric Heymans, has also been suspended by the club, but for an unrelated episode after he criticised club supporters in a local newspaper.

Alain Afflelou, chairman of Bayonne's board of directors, said in a statement: "There will be no exceptions or excuses. All players are now warned - the club will no longer allow misconduct on the part of players, and they may be exposed to greater penalties.

"We have enough quality young players at the club. Just because some are bigger names, it does not mean they are protected and above the group. Through these measures, I also want to preserve the vast majority of players who give back and get involved on a daily basis for the good of the club."

In reference to allegations against Phillips, Afflelou is reported to have told French newspaper L'Equipe: "It is not the first time. I'm sick of it."

Phillips, who has won 67 Wales caps and started all three Tests for the 2009 British and Irish Lions in South Africa, joined Bayonne from the Ospreys last year.He was suspended by Wales during the early stages of their Rugby World Cup preparations in 2011 following an altercation in Cardiff city centre during the early hours of the morning.

Phillips, though, was reinstated well ahead of the tournament and he went on to play a starring role as Wales reached the semi-finals. But the news from France will concern Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley as he builds towards his autumn Test squad announcement on October 22.

Howley will be in charge of Wales for most of this season as head coach Warren Gatland concentrates on his role as 2013 British and Irish Lions boss.

Wales kick off their season against Argentina in Cardiff on November 10, followed by quickfire appointments with Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

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