French rugby player Mathieu Bastareaud has left himself, his team, his Rugby Union, and, of course, his country acutely embarrassed by the cock-and-bull story he made up about being assaulted in Wellington last weekend.

Bastareaud had told police he was attacked from behind by five men outside his hotel early on Sunday morning, leaving him with a serious eye injury requiring stitches.

The story changed only after police suggested he "reconsider" his position.

He admitted overnight he had lied, and had actually hit his head on a table in his hotel room after drinking too much following his team's Saturday night loss to the All Blacks.

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Here's a list of some other notable foul deeds, dumb decisions and gaffes that have left France red-faced over the years:

The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

French foreign intellgience services bombed Greenpeace's ship, the Rainbow Warrior, on July 10, 1985.

The ship was targetted to prevent it from interfereing in French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

The bombing of the ship in Auckland's harbour was a public relations disaster with the French originally denying involvement and joining in in the condemnation of the bombing calling it terrorism.

French involvement shortly become public knowledge which resulted in the resignation of the French defence minister and French President François Mitterrand admitting personal responsibility 20 years later.

Zidane head-butt

Accomplished French midfielder Zinedine Zidane head-butted Italian Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup soccer final between France and Italy.

The head-butt caused Materazzi to fall to the ground and resulted in Zidane receiving a red card and being sent off the pitch.

The game ended in a penalty shootout and Italy winning the game.

Van de Velde's golf anticlimax

Frenchman Jean Van de Velde was clearly in the lead when it came to the final hole of the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie when he crumbled under the pressure.

Despite his three-shot lead, Van de Velde failed to make his shots count with them landing in the rough and memorably bouncing off the grandstands into the water of Barry Burn.

He decided to forfeight his 4th shot only after an embarrasing wade through the shin-deep water to see if he could make the shot from Barry Burn.

He finally made the putt for a triple-bogey seven, dropping him into a three-way playoff, which he ultimately lost to Paul Lawrie.

Marquis de Sade

This 18th century French aristocrat and novelist produced literary work that celebrated rape, incest, torture and murder.

The term 'sadist' derives from his name and refers to someone who takes pleasure in inflicting pain on others.

French military failures

Under Napoleon's leadership the French quickly rose to power conquering most of Europe, only to drop the ball with the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812.

The Russian campaign severely reduced French military might to a fraction of its former strength, paving the way to ultimate defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

* research by David Kraitzik