France centre Mathieu Bastareaud has apologised after being cited for appearing to direct homophobic abuse at a Benetton player during Toulon’s 36-0 European Champions Cup win.
The centre, who has 42 caps for his country, could miss the NatWest 6 Nations after being charged with verbal abuse of a player, which carries a ban ranging from six weeks to a year. France kick off their campaign against Ireland on February 3.
The incident happened in the last minute of the match, when Bastareaud appeared to call Italy forward Sebastian Negri a "f***ing f*****".
Bastareaud wrote on his Twitter account: "Good evening everybody, I want to apologise to my response to the insults of the Italian Player. I reacted badly in responding to his provocation, I am sincerely sorry for the people I hurt."
Announcing the decision to cite Bastareaud, Champions Cup organisers European Professional Club Rugby said: "EPCR has received a citing complaint against the RC Toulon player, Mathieu Bastareaud (No 13), following his club’s Champions Cup, Round 5 match against Benetton Rugby at Stade Felix Mayol.
"Bastareaud is alleged to have verbally abused a Benetton Rugby player in the 80th minute of the match in contravention of Law 9.12.
"Details of the independent Disciplinary Hearing and any other disciplinary matters arising from Round 5 of EPCR’s competitions will be announced as soon as practicable."
Former England fly-half Andy Goode, who was commentating on the game, tweeted: "Absolutely disgusting and no place for it anywhere. I hope @ChampionsCup make an example of @BastaOfficiel and ban him for a long time."