Phillips to take legal action after Bayonne sacking

Wales and Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has confirmed that he has been sacked by French Top 14 club Bayonne and threatened to take legal action against the club.

While Bayonnne have yet to confirm the reason for Phillips sacking it is thought that he he turned up drunk at a team video analysis session on October 11.

Phillips said he found out about his dismissal from reading an interview in a French newspaper.

In a statement carried on the website of the Western Mail, Wales’s national newspaper, and other British media, the 31-year-old Phillips said: “I am extremely disappointed and frustrated by the decision taken by Aviron Bayonnais Rugby Club to terminate my employment.

“I was also disappointed by the fact that I officially heard about my dismissal through an interview given in a French newspaper.

“As a result of discussions with my legal team in France I have now instructed them to issue proceedings against Aviron Bayonnais Rugby Club through the French judicial system,” Phillips added.

Twice a British and Irish Lions tourist Phillips said he was looking forward to focusing on the forthcoming test matches.

“I wish to thank my team mates and the many friends I have made in the Basque Country for their help and kindness over the past two seasons,” he said.

“I will now wholeheartedly concentrate all my energy and efforts on training with Wales and try to earn a place in the match day squad to help Wales have a successful Autumn campaign against South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Tonga.”

In a telephone interview given to Saturday’s edition of French newspaper Sud Ouest, Bayonne chairman Alain Afflelou said: “I decided to sack him on the spot once I heard the news, there was never a shadow of a doubt in my mind, there was though, a legal procedure to follow.”

Asked if the decision to dispense with the services of the 77-times capped Phillips had been agreed by all the club’s directors, Afflelou added: “Yes and if it had not been I would have left. It was a case of either him or me. I couldn’t have stayed.”

And he insisted coach Christian Lanta was “even angrier than I was” about Phillips’s behaviour.

Questioned as to whether Phillips had been expecting such severe action Afflelou, whose side have been struggling in the Top 14 so far this season, said: “Well I hope he wasn’t expecting a letter of congratulations!

“With all the problems we have had on the pitch, that was the last thing we needed.

“What he did was inexcusable and he is a repeat offender.”

Phillips was fined and suspended by Bayonne for an off-field incident last year and was briefly banned from the Wales squad in 2011 following a confrontation with a doorman in Cardiff.

Afflelou said he was especially upset by Phillips’ recent conduct as he’d offered him a new contract in the close season.

“He is a guy who I had a lot of affection and respect for as a person and professionally…I even asked him to my house in the summer to propose a new two-year contract.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland was quick to stress it would not affect Phillips’s prospects when he announced his squad earlier this month for the November Tests.

Gatland, who had Phillips on board while coaching the British and Irish Lions during their recent 2-1 series win in Australia, said: “All I can say over the last campaigns with us he has been great.

“Obviously, there are slight concerns about making sure this is something that does not continue to be repeated…There will be no sanctions for him here in this set-up.”

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