Racing 92 sack Fiji ace Nakarawa for late post-World Cup return

Leone Nakarawa (Getty Images)
Leone Nakarawa (Getty Images)

Paris - Racing 92 announced on Friday they had sacked Fijian Olympic gold medallist Leone Nakarawa for returning two weeks late after taking a holiday following the Rugby World Cup.

"This decision... Follows the proven disciplinary breaches of Mr Leone Nakarawa who, in particular, did not show up for the scheduled resumption of training on 28 October 2019," the club said in a statement, adding that the 31-year-old forward "refused to reply to the messages the club sent to him" while he was in Fiji.

Nakarawa "simply set his own return date", said the statement, "presenting the club with a fait accompli and deliberately missing the matches against Stade Francais on November 3 and the first European Cup match against Saracens on November 17".

Racing 92 beat Stade comfortably but lost 19-13 to reigning European champions Saracens.

The 1.98m, 104kg lock was voted player of the year in Europe in 2018. He scored a try in the final as Fiji won the Olympic sevens in 2016 and started every game at this year's World Cup, either in the second row or at No 8, as Fiji finished third in Pool D.

Nakarawa was suspended on his return and then summoned for a disciplinary meeting by the club on November 22.

The statement said that the decision to fire him had been taken by the club president Jacky Lorenzetti after a delay for "a few days of reflection as well as the legal waiting periods in force".

Nakarawa had been at Racing 92 since 2016, appearing in 86 games for the Top 14 club and scoring 23 tries.

The club said this was not the first time he had "abandoned his post".

"This is also a deplorable example for Racing 92 players, when his status as best player in the 2018 European Cup should have encouraged him to set an example."

"At Racing, the only star is the team," said the statement. "Leone Nakarawa's egocentric attitude is unacceptable. It denotes a total lack of team spirit and blatant insubordination."

His departure leaves the club short of locks with just 35-year-old Irish international Donnacha Ryan, All Black Dominic Bird and young Frenchman Boris Palu, as well as French international Bernard Le Roux who usually plays in the back row.

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