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Ugo Monye has become the fourth celebrity to leave Strictly, saying it was an "absolute pleasure" to dance on the BBC show.
The rugby star and his pro partner Oti Mabuse were given their marching orders in Sunday's show after ending up in the bottom two and facing Rhys Stephenson and his partner Nancy Xu in the dreaded dance-off.
They failed to win over judges Craig Revel Horwood, Anton Du Beke, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse with their rumba, with the panel deciding to save Rhys instead.
"I've loved it," Ugo said of his stint on the dance floor. "It's an absolute privilege to be on this show and all I've wanted to do every week is just get a little bit better and I've done that.
"There's lots of people that I would love to say thank you to. Oti, firstly, just for putting up with me. She said she wanted a challenge and she got one!"
Ugo, who battled back problems earlier in the competition, went on: "To everyone else that's in the competition, it's truly incredible and I wish you all the very best of luck.
"To the judges – Craig – I think it's really important to say that if you're willing to accept the positive comments, you have to accept the criticism as well so thank you for all of your comments."
Oti was then asked if she had any words for her partner and said: "I stand here in this very moment feeling very, very grateful. I am so grateful to be partnered with you. Thank you for having me as a teacher, as a trainer. Seeing you through your injury, I appreciate every single moment that you've given to me."
The dancer said she was also "grateful for the show".
"To say I work on the best show in the whole country, with the best celebrities is a privilege and I am very grateful to [Ugo], thank you, thank you, thank you," she said.
The judges were unanimous in their decision to send Ugo home after the dance-off.
Delivering his verdict, Craig said: "I just want to say I have the greatest respect for every celebrity who is brave enough to come on this show and bare their heart and soul to the nation, it takes guts. But, the couple I'd like to save is Rhys and Nancy."
Motsi and Anton agreed that Rhys had been stronger.
Anton said: "Well, it so often turns out that the dance-off seems to instil something in the couples and they've produced their best performances. So, on that performance alone, I'm going to give it to Rhys and Nancy."
Head judge Shirley said that she would also have voted to save Rhys and Nancy.
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- Strictly Come Dancing
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