Ellis Genge’s actions and subsequent attitude leave a sour taste in one’s mouth, when you consider the lack of class that has characterised his behaviour, writes Oliver Keohane .
In the dying minutes of Ireland’s 32-18 thumping of England, in Dublin, English prop Ellis Genge was found repeatedly elbowing the neck and head of Irish captain Johnny Sexton. Worse than his action perhaps, has been his complete lack of remorse and respect in the days that have followed.
The footage is not open to interpretation. It is plain and clear for everybody to see the thuggish blows dealt by Genge to Sexton, who was trapped underneath him. What’s more shocking than the foul play itself was the flippancy of Genge in openly admitting it and not apologising afterwards.
The audio from the ref mic went as follows:
Genge: “Grandad wouldn’t let go of me man”
Sexton: “Sir, he elbowed me in the face”
Genge: Yeah I did, I did
Fascinating that referee Mathieu Raynal does not send him off, and does not allow for a chat with Sexton. Fascinating that subsequently, Genge has entirely escaped sanction – with the citing commissioner somehow deeming his actions not severe enough to have warranted a red card – but most perplexing is the fact that the prop believes a space for behaviour like this exists. That there has been no respect for rugby’s code and integrity, no respect for hierarchy and a legend of the game, and that there has been no remorse for open and cowardly thuggery.
How is it that a 26 year old with nine starts in 28 international appearances feels he’s entitled to assaulting “grandad, a rugby legend with 105 caps, 95 starts and who is captain of the opposing team and simply showing zero remorse? I’m not saying a player younger or of less pedigree than Sexton would have deserved the same treatment from Genge, but the nature of the incident certainly leaves a sour taste when you consider the context of the two players, and the class with which Sexton carried himself in comparison to the cowardly and crass way in which Genge went about everything. Cowardly in hitting a defenseless player, crass in his carelessness post the incident and complete lack of respect for Sexton as a captain, player and person.
Called out by Springbok legend Beast Mtawarira, Genge showed as little care on social media as he did at the bottom of that ruck.
I’ll let him know https://t.co/mAPeEDOo63
— Gengey (@EllisGenge) March 22, 2021
Genge’s antics were reminiscent of Springbok prop Dean Greyling’s blindsiding of All Black captain Richie McCaw at a ruck in 2012. Greyling flew in off his feet, with his forearm extended to knock McCaw’s head. It was of a similar cowardly nature in that McCaw too was unprepared, and it was similarly crass in that the action was against a player who, in over 100 tests at the time had thrown only one punch ever – and it was against a streaker who tried to take out the referee.
Greyling didn’t play for the Springboks again, and while my hope isn’t to see Genge exiled entirely, it would be an indictment of Eddie Jone’s class and quality as a coach if he does not impose any consequences going forward. There simply is no space for thuggery in rugby, but beyond that there should be no allowance for the attitude shown by Genge – regardless of the decision to cite him or not.