"I hope we are all clear now" - Chris Ashton on post-match apology to James Lowe
Chris Ashton went to town on James Lowe, back in 2020, but then said on the same show, earlier this week, that he had just made a throwaway comment.
We are all for professional athletes being opinionated and not shying away from topics, but Ashton seemed to revel in his critique of Lowe after the winger suffered a nightmare outing against England in the once-off Autumn Nations Cup.
After a fine debut for Ireland, against Wales, the Leinster winger had a poor outing in an away loss to England. He was caught out by an England counter that occurred after Ireland turned the ball over, and not even in the screen as Jonny May blitzed over for a score. Lowe would later tell House of Rugby:
"I will stand up and say that Jonny May try, I didn’t think he was going to score that, and I know it’s my role to get back there and stop it. I fully understand that."
Ashton, who last played for England in February 2019, was highly critical of Lowe in that game and said he was 'too big, too heavy, too slow'.
On the BBC's Rugby Union Weekly, Ashton had declared, "Where was James Lowe? He’s dragging a dresser back there. He’s too big. He’s like a tractor, mate, turning. I watched him during the game, he is too big, too heavy, too slow." In response, Lowe had said:
"Look, Chris is probably trying to step up and make a bit of a name for himself... For someone who has also played international rugby and would have a fair amount of understanding. But, like I said, I didn’t hear it or see the context of how he was saying it. But I wouldn’t mind him in front of me, every now and then. See how we go."
Last Saturday, at Welford Road, the pair faced off in a Champions Cup quarter final. While neither player set the game alight, or torched each other, it was Lowe that had the heartiest laugh after the final whistle, as Leinster marched on to the semis.
Ashton was back on the BBC podcast, this week, and revealed he had apologised to the Leinster star.
'I hope we are all clear now' - Chris Ashton
Leinster defeated the Leicester Tigers side of Chris Ashton, who fell short despite a second half try from the winger.
Asked if he caught up with James Lowe during, or after, the game, Ashton commented, "We were alright actually, surprisingly alright. We were fine.
"I think we probably weren’t in the game enough against each other. He wasn’t needed necessarily because his forwards were that good and that efficient, he wasn’t needed.
"I did make a point of going to him after the game to say my bad. It was a throwaway comment that was taken out of context, it was about the specific game. He is a good player, he doesn’t need to worry about what I have been saying so hopefully he is alright.
"He tried to throw an uppercut my way, as we were walking off the pitch but I hope he was pretending. So I hope we are all clear now."
The 'out of context' defence is particularly weak, as it was a barefaced take-down of another professional with some strong wording in there. For Lowe's part, he told print journalists on Monday of the apology and says the matter is firmly behind him now.
Lowe was carrying an injury in that England game and nowhere near 100% fit, but when is a rugby player ever 100%? As for the uppercut from Lowe, it could simply have been a fist pump of celebration, right where Ashton could cop it.