Lassissi owns up and ships out of French squad
January 11, 2000

Back-rower Ismailia Lassissi, a member of the French squad named to prepare for the Six Nations championship, on Monday admitted he is not eligible to play.

The Castres player had been included by French coach Bernard Laporte in a squad for a training camp to be be held at Blagnac from January 17-24, but admitted Monday that the 15 Tests he had previously played for the Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) ruled him ineligible.

Under new International Rugby Board rules, Lassissi had to have played for France before January 1 to establish his eligibility.

Lassissi's international career for the Cote d'Ivoire included him playing in the 1995 World Cup in South Africa -but he has since lived in France.

He told AFP that he would not be attending the training camp as it was clear he was not qualified to play for France.

According to article 8.3 of the IRB rules from January 1, no player who has played for a national team, or A team, is eligible to subsequently switch to another national side regardless of his residence.

"This player is clearly not qualified to play for France," an IRB spokesman told AFP.

Laporte said he hoped that Lassissi may eventually be able to wear a French jersey.

He said that Castres had already received a letter from the Employment Ministry confirming that the player was now a French national.

"We have sent all the information concerning Lassissi's case to the IRB, and also that of Samoan-born Legi Matiu," said Laporte. "We hope to get a response within 48 hours."

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