Toulon captain only banned for three-weeks after using homophobic slur

France will be without centre Mathieu Bastareaud for their Six Nations clash with Ireland after he received a three-week ban for 'verbally abusing' Sebastian Negri Da Oleggio in a Champions Cup pool match last weekend.

The French are due to host Ireland at the Stade de France on the opening weekend of this season's campaign.

Television footage appeared to show the Toulon captain calling the Benetton flanker a "f**king faggot" in the final minute of the Top 14 club's victory against the Italians at the Stade Félix Mayol.

Bastareaud, who was cited by the match Citing Commissioner Dennis Jones, took to Twitter after the game to say he was "sincerely sorry" for the people he hurt and that he "reacted badly in responding to [Da Oleggio's] provocation."

The relevant World Rugby regulation states that; “verbal abuse includes, but is not limited to abuse based on: religion, colour, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation” and it carries a minimum sanction of a six week suspension to a maximum of twelve weeks.

The France international's guilty plea helped to reduce the term of his ban as revealed in the ruling issued by European Professional Club Rugby this afternoon.

"Following an adjournment, the [Independent Disciplinary] Committee upheld the citing complaint as it determined that the nature of the verbal abuse warranted a red card. It found that the offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.
"As there were no aggravating factors and taking into account the player's guilty plea, the Committee then reduced the sanction by the maximum permitted of 50 per cent before imposing a suspension of three weeks.
"Bastareaud is free to play on Sunday, 4 February 2018, and both he and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision."

Ireland's meeting with Les Bleus is due to take place in Paris on Saturday, February 3.