Sport

Friday 19 September 2014

Neil Francis pays his ‘penance’ at Swan Lake

Published 26/02/2014 | 06:56

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Neil Francis and Brenda Donoghue
Neil Francis and Brenda Donoghue

HE said that sportsmen don’t like ballet and rugby pundit Neil Francis has paid “penance” by attending his first ever performance.

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The red carpet was rolled out at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin last night for the opening of Matthew Bourne’s all-male production of Swan Lake – and the former Irish international led the way.

Mr Francis was there as he agreed to review the extravaganza for RTE One’s ‘The Mooney Show’ and will report back to radio host Derek Mooney today.

Although he was out of his comfort zone, he told the Herald he was looking forward to seeing one of the most famous ballet productions of all time – and insisted he would be keeping an open mind.

JUDGMENT

“I've turned up blank, I know nothing about it. The production staff on Mooney sent me a link but I didn't watch that. I am looking forward to it and am going in with an open mind.

“I will watch it and say what I see an make a judgment based on that. I'll wait to see what happens. I only found out on the Mooney show what the format was and that it was a radically different production. This is part of my penance I suppose,” he said.

Mr Francis received widespread backlash when he suggested live on air that the percentage of gay people in professional sport was lower than in the general population.

He has since apologised “unreservedly” for the comments he made on Newstalk Radio’s ‘Off The Ball’.

Mr Francis, who was joined by Stephen Brennan of Ballet Ireland, admitted that last night's outing could be a one-off for him.

“I doubt I'll be a ballet convert but I'm always open,” he said.

“Professional sport by its very nature does not promote...there are a wide range of people who are homosexual and the environment that they are in isn't something that they are really interested in,” he said on the programme.

Other well known faces to turn out for the premiere of Swan Lake included Matt Cooper, Ian Dempsey and Sinead Desmond.

hnews@herald.ie

Irish Independent

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