MONTPELLIER: French rugby international prop Mohamed Haouas was on Tuesday handed a one-year jail sentence for hitting his wife in public, a conviction which has all but ended his chances of playing in the World Cup.

Haouas, 29, who has played 16 times for France, told a court he had lost control when he saw his wife smoking at the shopping centre where she worked, after telling him she had given up.

“She has the right to smoke... but the problem is that she lied to me... and I said to myself that if she can lie about the cigarette, she could lie about other things,“ he told the court in Montpellier, southern France.

The court did not follow the recommendations of the prosecution, who had called for the prop to face 18 months in prison, beginning immediately.

Instead Haouas will remain free while he launches an appeal, or he could wear an electronic tag.

Haouas’ international career could well be over however as he has already received an 18-month suspended sentence for armed robbery.

His chances of being selected for this year’s World Cup already looked slim after he was shown a red card in France’s Six Nations victory against Scotland in February for headbutting an opponent. He was also sent off against the same team in 2020.

Coach Fabien Galthie will announce his 42-man training squad next month for the tournament hosted by France from September 8 to October 28.

“The behaviour of Mohamed Haouas is unacceptable and incompatible with the representation of our nation at the international level,“ the French Rugby Federation (FFR) said in a statement after Tuesday’s verdict.

Explaining what had happened in the incident last Friday, Haouas, who weighs 123 kg (271 pounds), told the court: “I was imagining things. Married men cheat on their wives, I love her, so I was afraid.”

Turning to his wife, the mother of his two children, Haouas said: “I became emotional and I really regret it... that’s my wife, I love her, I love her.”

- Undergo counselling -

The court heard that Montpellier player Haouas said he was willing to undergo counselling to learn how to control his temper.

His wife’s lawyer said she wanted to be reunited with her husband and discuss what had happened, possibly with the assistance of a third party.

He had been due to leave Montpellier after this season and had agreed a contract with Top 14 rivals Clermont.

Following the verdict his intended club released a statement saying Haouas “will not be able to wear the colours” of Clermont.

“By his behaviour, Mohamed Haouas is totally opposed to our identity and our convictions,“ the Clermont statement said, calling his offences “unacceptable”.

The FFR expressed its “dismay at this situation and condemns in the strongest terms all forms of violence, especially violence against women.”

“Haouas’ conduct is contrary to the principles underlying our sport and our national team,“ said Serge Simon, the FFR vice-president in charge of the French teams.

“Being a member of the French team implies irreproachable respect for the values of respect and integrity. Firmness is our duty in such circumstances.”

The FFR statement added that the France coach and general manager would speak during an already planned press conference on June 7. -AFP