A former Ireland head coach has accused Jonathan Sexton of throwing Andy Farrell under the bus with his reaction as he walked off the field in France on the weekend. Ireland fell to a 35 – 27 defeat to France, letting slip a decent chance at winning the Guinness Six Nations on points difference.
Sexton angrily shook his head when he was substituted for Ross Byrne during Ireland’s defeat in the Guinness Six Nations decider.
It was a moment that has left a sour taste in the mouths of many within Irish rugby circles, some interpreting it as an act of disrespect to the coaching ticket and more generally unsupportive to Ireland’s endeavours.
Speaking after the game, Sexton defended his behaviour, saying: “I was very disappointed coming off, like everyone would be.
“You’re losing the game and you’re coming off, so what would you like me to be doing? It was disappointment that we didn’t win the game.”
Now former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan has accused him of throwing Farrell under the bus.
“You do not throw the coach under the bus, walking off the field,” said O’Sullivan, speaking on the RTE Rugby podcast.
“First thing is I wouldn’t have substituted him… but that’s neither here nor there. That’s Andy Farrell’s call,” said O’Sullivan. “[Johnny’s] position is under scrutiny in terms of how he reacts to things.
“For me his reaction was the worst possible reaction. I get he was upset, I get he was annoyed.
“But for the good of the team and to show leadership and captaincy, he has to bottle it up, it’s no big deal.
“You go to the bench, you sit down, you give out to yourself and then after the game you go to Andy Farrell and say ‘I want to talk to you’.
“You have your debate with Farrell, he explains his case and that’s how you do it.
“You do not throw the coach under the bus, walking off the field.
“He has to know better than that, he has to know that his reaction is going to be magnified and he has to know that by doing what he did he kind of undermined [replacement Ross Byrne], he undermined the team and he undermined the coach.
“He should apologise to Farrell.
“It was an amazingly poor decision. I kind of think he knew what he was doing, I don’t think it was an accident and I think it has damaged his relationship now, whether we like it or not, with the team and with the coach.”
Sexton, an intense figure, has been driving standards in Irish rugby on and off the pitch. He is known for his direct communication with his fellow teammates, although it earned him the nickname ‘The Rat’ at Leinster because of his fouls moods.
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