October 21, 2019 / 5:32 PM / 4 months ago

France lock Vahaamahina retires after red card at World Cup

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Wales v France - Oita Stadium, Oita, Japan - October 20, 2019 France's Sebastien Vahaamahina leaves the pitch after being shown a red card by a referee Jaco Peyer REUTERS/Edgar Su

(Reuters) - France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina announced his retirement from international rugby on Monday, a day after his red card against Wales probably cost his country a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

France were leading 19-10 in Oita, Japan when Vahaamahina inexplicably elbowed Wales forward Aaron Wainwright in the face and was sent off. The French were reduced to 14 men and went on to lose the match 20-19.

“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,” Vahaamahina said in a statement.

“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... I just lost control. I regret this gesture.”

The 28-year-old Vahaamahina, who is set to attend a World Rugby hearing on Thursday, said he would be undergoing surgery to clear up an arm injury.

“It is the end of a cycle, a new page turns in my career,” he added. “I am 28 and I can’t wait to rebuild, physically and mentally, and come back even stronger.”

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, Editing by Ed Osmond

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