Hurricanes star Du’Plessis Kirifi regrets his one-fingered salute to fans in Sydney after hearing “racial slurs” about his mother.
Kirifi says he copped abuse from the crowd during the Canes’ 22-18 win over the Waratahs at Leichhardt Oval in Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday.
The 25-year-old loose forward has since apologised, but the Canes have supported him in response to what he believed were derogatory comments directed at him.
“Racist comments, or comments about your mother, are not pleasant for a young man to deal with – or any person to deal with,” Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee said.
“He regrets what he did, but I can totally understand why he did it – in the heat of the moment, after allegedly hearing that kind of language.
“I can accept why he made a mistake. I can understand why it happened.”
Kirifi added: “I admire my teammates who are mature enough to be non-reactive and hopefully the next time I’m in this position I show the same resolve.
“As athletes we’re in the public eye, so I apologise to anyone disappointed by my actions, especially those with kids who look up to us as professionals.
“If I had my time again, I’d definitely act in a different way.”
The Waratahs issued a statement on the incident: ”The NSW Waratahs are disappointed to be recently made aware of an allegation of racial abuse from the crowd at Leichhardt Oval towards Hurricanes player Du’Plessis Kirifi on Saturday night.
“There is no place for racism in society and this behaviour will not be tolerated. The NSW Waratahs celebrate the multicultural diversity of our team and are proud to embrace the inclusiveness of all cultures and races in rugby.’’