Worldwide reaction to Johnny Sexton ban shows how high Ireland have climbed
Being discussed in the four corners of the [Tier One] rugby planet.
If you wanted to take stock of how much Irish rugby has risen, over the past five years, look no further than the reaction of rugby pundits, outlets, fans and former players to the Johnny Sexton ban.
Despite the fact that Ireland have never gone beyond the quarter finals of the World Cup, and the fact that the closest we came was way back in 1991, we are firmly on that radar of rugby's heavyweights now.
During a radio interview I had with Martin Devlin, for The Platform in New Zealand, after Ireland won the Grand Slam, the show's host admitted many Kiwis were 'in awe' of Andy Farrell's men.
"All I can say is you bunch of frickin' sods, mate!" he exclaimed.
"You'll be laughing at this, because in between World Cups, the All Blacks have always been the best team, but this time we aren't. That's you now - you're the favourites heading into the World Cup. It's not a title that sits easy, though, is it?"
Ireland are the No.1 ranked side in world rugby, and are on a 10 game unbeaten run that includes victories over New Zealand [twice], South Africa, Australia, England and France. As the World Cup heads to France for its 10th ever staging, Ireland look primed to go deep in the draw.
Sexton will be available for all those World Cup games, fitness permitting, after only copping a three-match ban [reduced from a potential six]. That decision has certainly sparked debate amongst some of rugby's biggest powerhouses.
New Zealand (Liam Napier)
Sexton very fortunate to escape with a three match ban - yet on the eve of the World Cup, it’s also highly predictable https://t.co/Sccniwpz57
— Liam Napier (@liamnapiernz) July 17, 2023
Writer Manon Moreau stated that one could have imagined the Johnny Sexton decision could have been 'much heavier in view of the sanctions for the same reason in recent years'.
'Words, inappropriate gestures and insults have no place in rugby', he added before citing four other misconduct cases that ended up with longer bans for the transgressors.
South Africa (Brendan Nel & Jared Wright)
Its strange how the same people who crucified Rassie are defending Sexton. But guess that's the way it goes. Honestly he got off easy, but that's that. What's done is done and never saw the panel making him miss his swansong.
Moving on... https://t.co/1Um1SMDPU2
— Brenden Nel (@Brendennel) July 17, 2023
LIVE scenes of the EPCR issuing Johnny Sexton his ban. pic.twitter.com/2GOxfgcD4m
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) July 16, 2023
England (Peter Jackson & Charles Richardson)
Ten years ago Dylan Hartley got 11 weeks for verbally abusing the referee and missed a Lions tour. Johnny Sexton, guilty on all 3 counts of being ‘confrontational, aggressive, disrespectful and hostile’ to all 3 match officials, gets off with 3 matches. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
— Peter Jackson (@JackoRugby) July 17, 2023
Johnny Sexton is suspended for 3 matches for "pointing his finger at [the H Cup final officials] and shouting something to the effect of "it’s a disgrace you guys can't get the big decisions right".
Misses all of Ireland's RWC warm-ups but back for the opener. Convenient...
— Charles Richardson (@CRichardsonTel) July 16, 2023
Ireland (Stephen Ferris)
I feel sorry for the supporting Irish fans who have watched Johnny Sexton for many years playing for his country, and now won’t get a chance to see him play on Irish soil before the World Cup. He has grown the game globally for nearly two decades, and IMO the ban seems harsh…
— Stephen Ferris (@StephenFerris6) July 17, 2023
As it stands, Johnny Sexton will train with the Ireland squad and help with all the World Cup preparations and analysis, but he must spin his wheels until the tournament gets underway in France, in early September.
Should Ireland finish first or second in their World Cup pool, they will most likely face off against France or New Zealand in the quarter finals.
- Stuart McCloskey, the man they could no longer ignore
- Josh van der Flier flourishing under added hype and expectation was one of the season's best stories
- The Christmas chat with "straight-shooter" ROG that got Donnacha Ryan into coaching
- Tadhg Beirne and the Leinster mistake that gets worse every season
- Levani Botia, the former prison officer that perfectly captures La Rochelle's incredible rise
- Brian O'Driscoll on the England press conference remark he quickly regretted
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