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11th Jun 2023

Johnny Sexton could miss World Cup matches after “intimidating” behaviour accusation

Patrick McCarry

Johnny Sexton

Post-match footage showed the injured Leinster captain approaching the match officials to share some thoughts.

Johnny Sexton could be facing the prospect of missing World Cup warm-up matches, and some games in the tournament, should the EPCR decide to slap him with a severe punishment relating to his actions during and after the Champions Cup final.

Sexton was unable to take part in the match, as he underwent season-ending surgery in March, but he certainly made his presence felt. The 37-year-old was involved in the half-time tunnel set-to, as were Sean O’Brien and Ronan O’Gara, then tried to grab a word with referee Jaco Peyper after the game.

Sexton had some thoughts to share with the South African but was ushered away by linesman Karl Dickson. As part of an EPCR investigation to the tunnel incident and some post-match scenes, Sexton’s behaviour was described as “intimidating” by one official.

City A.M has reported that Sexton stands accused of three counts of misconduct and has received a letter from the EPCR stating as such. He is ‘alleged to have mouthed obscenities towards the three on-pitch officials’ – Peyper, Dickson and Christophe Ridley, the other linesman.

Johnny SextonA still taken from fan’s post-match footage at Aviva Stadium shows Karl Dickson ushering Johnny Sexton away.

Johnny Sexton could be banned

It is believed that the half-time tunnel incident is now being looked upon as a minor skirmish and it is unlikely that any stringent sanctions will follow.

Johnny Sexton could face a ban, though, for approaching the officials after Leinster’s agonising defeat to La Rochelle in that Champions Cup final, at Aviva Stadium.

The misconduct letter is often a part of the disciplinary process and the outhalf is said to have received it late last week. Both Sexton and Leinster have an opportunity to reply to the letter before officials decide on the next step.

Earlier this season, Sebastien Piqueronies, a member of the Pau coaching staff, was banned for 10 weeks for grabbing Scottish referee Sam Grove-White during a Challenge Cup game.

Sexton is unlikely to face a ban of similar length, but him being identified in that half-time tunnel incident will not colour the process kindly for him. If the ban was a less severe number, such as four or five weeks, the next consideration would be when it applies for.

We have seen both the Scottish and English unions get creative with games players could be available for, chewing up weeks of bans that key players were never going to be active in. Ireland do have three World Cup warm-ups, spread across August, so Sexton could miss some of those outings. As Leinster announced he has played their last game with them, the IRFU would stretch credulity by suggesting Sexton was needed for 2023/24 pre-season cover.

The EPCR were approached for more on the misconduct letter and, on Monday morning, replied with, ‘No comment’.


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