England prop Ellis Genge has opened up on the incident with Ireland captain Johnny Sexton and the abuse he has received during the Six Nations.
Genge escaped any form of sanction despite video replays appearing to show him throwing an elbow into Sexton’s face, after the Ireland flyhalf had illegally held him down after a breakdown.
When speaking to referee Mathieu Raynal right after the incident, Genge admitted that he had elbowed Sexton.
However, when speaking on ‘The Good, the Bad and the Rugby’ podcast with ex-England internationals James Haskell and Mike Tindall, the 26-year-old loosehead put the incident in context.
‘Look, they were holding us in a few rucks. I got held in the ruck before that,’ Genge said. ‘Then Johnny held me down for a bit. I thought, surely he would let go, because we were picking and going on the [try]line.
‘Emotions were flying high. He has got a strong grip for an old man. I thought that I had to get out, I can’t let him hold me any longer. Obviously, my arm was locked in. I was just trying to push up.
‘I do understand in that video – in that four-second clip that has been cut down – it does look like I am putting my elbow in his face. I spoke to him after. He has aware that I didn’t repeatedly elbow the bloke into the neck and the head.
‘I am like 19 stone, if I had elbowed him in the face, it would have been a lot more than him telling the ref. I am pretty sure he would be fuming. He was actually laughing.
‘I just think people, you cut this clip to four seconds and look what you have done. You make it a lot worse for some of the players when you isolate incidents like that. I make my bed and sleep in it, but I did nothing wrong in that situation. I haven’t elbowed the bloke, otherwise, I would have been sent off and cited.’
Videos of the incident spread over social media led to plenty of angry reactions going Genge’s way, including from iconic former Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira, who tweeted hat he should be ‘dealt with’ after the incident.
Genge has had to deal with plenty of online abuse during the Six Nations, including death threats after England’s loss to Wales.
‘Rightly so, a lot of fans had a lot of questions. Their only way to do so is via social media. I guess that is where all the smoke is coming from with the online abuse – you see Liam Williams also got.
‘It’s them ranting and venting. I am sure none of them would ever dream to say some of that stuff to my face and probably not in the stand either. I think a lot of these burner accounts is a result of them being locked down for so long. Their well-being is obviously deteriorating and they are creating burner accounts to vent. I almost feel sorry for them – the stuff that pops into their head.’
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