Former France centre Mathieu Bastareaud was given a standing ovation after his return to Toulon ended in sad circumstances, suffering a double knee injury just four minutes into the match
Mathieu Bastareaud’s second return to former employers Toulon ended in nightmarish circumstances on Saturday after a double knee injury led to his withdrawal only four minutes in.
His comeback could hardly have gone worse, however, after Bastareaud was left crumpled and clutching his right knee following one of his first carries.
The 33-year-old appeared to fall of his own accord just before the point of contact, and the Stade Mayol could only grimace as cries of pain were soon heard ringing around the venue.
Medics were immediately called on to assist the player, who was visibly in agony before being stretchered off to a chorus of applause from his former followers.
French newspaper L’Equipe later reported Lyon coach Pierre Mignoni said Bastareaud injured both his knees before his side went on to lose the league clash 19-13.
Bastareaud was part of the team that ended Toulon’s 22-year wait for a Top 14 title in 2014, not to mention winning three consecutive Champions Cup crowns between 2013 and 2015.
The 54-cap former France talisman ended his eight-year spell at the Stade Mayol in 2019, but the bond with his old supporters was apparent as he was taken for treatment to a chorus of clapping:
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The blow was particularly poorly timed considering Bastareaud was just returning from a hand injury and had previously spent eight months sidelined this year already with a separate knee complaint.
Bastareaud left Toulon to join Lyon for the first time in 2019, rejoining the club a year later having enjoyed a brief stint with Rugby United New York in the United States’ Major League Rugby competition.
He’s taken his sizeable frame from midfield to the No. 8 position since transitioning into a forward following his Toulon exit, having long stood out as bigger than the average centre for most of his career.
Having turned 33 in September, one serious knee injury might have been enough to cast the player’s career into doubt, never mind simultaneously suffering such a setback to both joints.
Details surrounding Bastareaud’s injury are still unclear, though it looks highly unlikely the player will feature for Lyon again this season as things stand.
The player has twice reunited with Lyon chief Mignoni, who was the backs coach for the first four years of his Toulon tenure.
Bastareaud signed a two-year contract with Les Loups (The Wolves) in 2020, meaning his latest Stade Mayol outing may end up being his last appearance for the club unless he signs an extension.
Once hailed as a key man for France, Bastareaud now faces an uphill fight to bounce back from suspected ligament damage in what’s likely the biggest fitness battle of his career to date.