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'I apologised and said 'look, it shouldn't have happened' - Sexton says sorry to Andy Farrell


Farrell and Sexton

Farrell and Sexton

Farrell and Sexton

Captain Johnny Sexton revealed he has apologised to Ireland head coach Andy Farrell for his reaction to being substituted in last Saturday's defeat to France in Paris.

Both men were put forward for media duties today as the squad came together ahead of their Autumn Nations Cup opener against Wales on Friday week.

Sexton has come in for heavy criticism from Brian O'Driscoll, Keith Wood and Eddie O'Sullivan among others since the loss at the Stade de France, in particular due to shaking his head repeatedly and glaring at the coach's box as he left the field after being replaced by Ross Byrne.

"Probably a mix really," he said of his reaction. "I am disappointed in myself with the reaction to a certain extent. Obviously if I’d known the stories that they’re trying to create and the way it’s being perceived I wouldn’t have done it.

"You’ve got to take it from my point of view, it’s in the heat of the moment, it’s up there with the biggest games I’ve played in as captain.

"Obviously it’s a low point and I reacted in a bad way for a split second and that’s it really. There’s not a lot more I can say.

"I spoke to Andy after the game and spoke on Sunday when I realised it was such a big thing and we sorted things out. I apologised and said ‘look, it shouldn’t have happened’. It did, it was a split second and obviously let myself down in that regard.

"You learn and you move on really. I suppose it’s not the first apology in my career and it won’t be the last. We’ll move on. Thankfully we’ve got a good relationship and there’s no problems going forward.

"You don’t realise, if someone said to me ‘you’re on the big screen’, I’m not going to do it. If I’d had time to think about it, I wouldn’t have done it.

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"But you’re playing in an international, you’re in the heat of battle, you’re captain of the team and you’re disappointed in the performance as much as anything. I’ve got to make sure the lads are in a better place to do what they’re meant to do.

"There’s as much disappointment in the situation as there is in the substitution. The other thing, obviously I need to deadpan it and just walk off. I am who I am.

"I have apologised to the people who matter but I’m not going to sit here and apologise to the whole world because it was a split-second thing and a split-second decision I made which I wish I didn’t but I do so there you go."

Farrell said he did not feel undermined by the incident and does not want Sexton to amend his personality.

"No, not at all. Johnny is a passionate guy and it is a reason we all love him as a player for how long he has been at the top of the Irish game," Farrell said.

"I suppose there is always a bit of learning from every game you play but, no, I don’t feel undermined and neither do the team.

"We need Johnny to be himself and there is always going to be learnings along the way but you are not going to change over night a person who has been at the top because of the intent and attitude he has got.

"Me and Johnny are always talking together. We speak most days. That is always ongoing. We have a conversation constantly to see where we are both at."

Asked if he felt the reaction to the incident was a storm in a tea-cup, Farrell said: "100 per cent. The last thing I want to do to Johnny is stop him being himself."

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