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Mathieu Bastareaud’s Struggle with Alcoholism

26-year-old Toulon and France rugby star Mathieu Bastareaud released his candid autobiography this week titled Head High: Confessions Rugby’s Terrible Child.

In the autobiography, Bastareaud reveals he’s suffered from depression and alcoholism for many years now.

Things came to a head during France’s 2009 tour of New Zealand. Following a defeat at the hands of the All-Blacks Bastareaud went on a drinking bender in Wellington. At night, he returned to his hotel room and slipped over hitting his head against a table. To cover up his drinking he claimed five men attacked him in the street.

He writes: “the doctor asked me how I got the injury. I should have confessed I was drunk, but I was ashamed of my behaviour and afraid to face consequences.”

This ‘attack’ prompted John Kay, Prime Minister of New Zealand, to issue a very public apology to Bastareaud.

When Bastareaud returned to France his depression kicked in again, as did his drinking. The Rugby star became subject to ‘internet trolling’. He attempted to take his own life at 21 years old using a kitchen knife. Although Bastareaud cut his wrist his suicide attempt fortunately failed.

“I jumped up and walked to the kitchen. I took a big knife and slit my veins. I immediately collapsed on the floor, fainting” writes Bastareaud.

“My friends in the living room heard the noise and came in. They saw the knife, the blood, and me lying there, unconscious and they called emergency services immediately.

“I don’t know if I really wanted to die. I wanted to suffer. I wanted to punish myself.

“When you hear everywhere all day long that you are just a loser, that you don’t deserve to be there… you try to keep a cool attitude but you begin to believe what people say.

“I smiled in public but, as soon as I came back home, I was alone.”

Bastareaud has since turned his life around following treatment received at an alcohol rehab clinic. His rugby club RC Toulonnais has offered lots of support for the troubled star. He has been assigned a psychologist and is said to be ‘making a full recovery’.