Ex-Bayonne president Alain Afflelou has recounted the October 2013 sacking of Mike Phillips, the long-time Wales scrum-half who left Ospreys and moved to the French Top 14 following his country’s run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2011. Phillips was fired after turning up drunk to a team analysis meeting following Bayonne’s Challenge Cup loss to Wasps. 

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Six-and-a-half years have passed since that abrupt parting of the ways and Afflelou, who himself exited Bayonne after a proposed merger with Biarritz collapsed, has recalled the departure of Phillips who played 40 Top 14 matches for the club. 

“We recruited players who did not want to fight,” said Afflelou in an interview with Midi Olympique, the French bi-weekly rugby newspaper. “We had brought in the Welsh scrum-half… and I said that we could not play with ‘pochards’ (boozers). 

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“The guy was drunk all the time. In the aftermath of a stinging defeat in Bayonne, he even arrived drunk at the video session the next day. Not just a little, eh. Seriously drunk. There, I said stop and I fired him.”

Phillips, who earned the last of his 94 Wales caps in an August 2015 match versus Ireland, was quickly snapped up by Racing, a move Afflelou wasn’t happy with.

“Racing recruited him, which lacked a bit of class. But he didn’t spark off there either… they were spending crazy money at the time on the transfer market,” he said, strengthening his case by referencing Benjamin Fall.

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“In 2010, we had this young winger who had qualities. Racing got on it. Francis Salagoity came to me and said, ‘What do we do? Do we increase it?’ I said: ‘This guy plays six games a year. When he is not injured, he is in the France team. We will take the €400,000 euros from Racing and let him go’. For him, the bad series continued in the Hauts-de-Seine and then in Montpellier.”

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