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04th May 2024

Northampton star with unfortunate choice of words ahead of Croke Park clash

Charlie Herbert

The clip has since been deleted

A clip of Northampton player Tommy Freeman speaking before his side’s match at Croke Park has been deleted because of an unfortunate choice of words.

On Saturday evening, Northampton will become the first-ever English club to play at Croke Park when they take on Leinster in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup.

The match is an 82-000 sell out, and will be the first rugby game to take place at the home of GAA in 14 years.

Before their trip to Dublin, the Northampton players were given a history lesson by their Irish strength and conditioning coach about the huge significance of Croke Park in Irish history.

The stadium was the scene of the 1920 Bloody Sunday massacre, when 14 civilians were killed as British forces opened fire on spectators during a Gaelic football match.

The atrocity was one of the most significant moments of the Irish independence movement in the early 1900s, and means Croke Park holds a unique place in the history of the nation.

An unfortunate choice of words from Tommy Freeman

Ahead of the match in Dublin, Northampton and England star Tommy Freeman was speaking to Lawrence Dallaglio’s Rugby Podcast.

But there was an unfortunate choice of words from the winger as he discussed the game.

In a now-deleted clip that was shared by Dallaglio on social media, the Northampton man said: “We’re definitely going there with the intent to do a job and do the best we can to put ourselves in the final.

“Personally, I think the pressure is probably on Leinster as it’s Croke Park, and the history behind Croke Park. There’s probably some pressure coming on from their side.

“We’re going full guns blazing, we’re going to give it everything we’ve got… and hopefully come away with a result.”

The use of the phrase “all guns blazing” in the context of the 1920 killings at Croke Park was regrettable, and whilst there’s no suggestion there was anything deliberate in Freeman’s choice of words, some wondered how the podcast’s producers didn’t clock that this was a problematic turn of phrase.

Sharing the clip on social media, one person said: “How on earth did the pod production crew manage to miss it entirely?”

Another wrote: “Oh God, unfortunate choice of words or irony – who knows ? Clearly the ‘education’ session worked!!”

And a third commented: “PR disaster! Hopefully this will be played in the Leinster dressing room before the game.”

Plenty of others attributed no blame to Freeman, and said it was nothing more than a slip of the tongue from the Englishman.

“Deleting it [the clip] is the right and respectful thing to do. He’s a young man, and may not have understood the gravity of his words. We move on. We focus on the rugby now,” one person said.

Leinster vs Northampton kicks off at Croke Park at 17:30 on Saturday evening, May 4.

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