French rugby international prop Mohamed Haouas was on Tuesday handed a one-year jail sentence for hitting his wife in public.
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.
Explaining what had happened in the incident last Friday, Haouas, who weighs 123 kg, said: “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.”
The court heard that Montpellier player Haouas said he was willing to undergo counseling 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.
Haouas’s international career could however be over as he has already received an 18-month suspended sentence for armed robbery.
His chances of being selected for this year’s Rugby 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 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 offenses “unacceptable”.