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France: Rupert Shocked By Omission

15 September 2004

France international Thierry Rupert has admitted that he feels like he has taken "a big slap in the face" after he was replaced in the national team squad by Cyril Julian.

On Tuesday France coach Claude Bergeaud announced that out-of-form Rupert would not feature in their next four European Championship qualifiers, and Julian, who had turned down a chance to be in the squad before the summer to spend more time with his club side in Spain, would be called up in his place.

Rupert hardly played in Les Bleus' first two qualifiers - a 77-61 loss to Slovenia on September 8 and a comfortable 89-56 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday.

"Claude told me after the match on Saturday that he wanted to introduce more competition within the team and that I lacked fitness," Rupert told L'Equipe.

"I thought he wanted to to get a reaction from me but I never thought that I would not go to Bercy (where France play against Poland on Wednesday).

"The news knocked my pride, I feel rejected."

This is a big slap in the face for me
Thierry Rupert
Le Mans player Alain Koffi was originally expected to replace Rupert, but he is still struggling with a wrist injury.

Rupert added: "I have decided to come to Bercy and watch the game even though this is a big slap in the face for me.

"But I will stay with my family instead. I have not ruled out the French team in the future but I am going to dedicate myself more to Pau-Orthez, my club."

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