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'My bad': Ashton apologises to Lowe 18 months after 'heavy' comment

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Ex-England winger Chris Ashton has revealed that he apologised to James Lowe after last Saturday’s Leicester versus Leinster European match for a damning podcast comment he made 18 months ago about the New Zealander. Lowe had played for Ireland in an Autumn Nations Cup match when Ashton criticised his positioning for a Twickenham try from England’s Jonny May

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“Where was James Lowe? He’s dragging a dresser back there. He’s too big. He’s like a tractor, mate, turning. I watched him during the game, he is too big, too heavy, too slow,” said Ashton at the time on Rugby Union Weekly, the podcast he guests on with Danny Care. 

The topic was revisited this week in the aftermath of last weekend’s win by Lowe’s Leinster over Ashton’s Leicester in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at Welford Road. It was the first time the pair has come across each other since the November 2020 remark on the BBC and Ashton described what happened when their paths crossed. 

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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots
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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots

“We were alright actually, surprisingly alright. We were fine,” he said on the latest Rugby Union Weekly episode. “I think we probably weren’t in the game enough against each other. He wasn’t needed necessarily because his forwards were that good and that efficient, he wasn’t needed. 

“I did make a point of going to him after the game to say my bad. It was a throwaway comment that was taken out of context, it was about the specific game. He is a good player, he doesn’t need to worry about what I have been saying so hopefully he is alright. He tried to throw an uppercut my way as we were walking off the pitch but I hope he was pretending. So I hope we are all clear now.”

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Leicester were comfortably defeated 24-13 in the quarter-final and the performance of Leinster reminded Ashton of his time at Saracens when they were in their trophy-winning pomp. “What got me which I probably haven’t felt since when I was at Saracens, the efficiency of everybody doing their job. Not just doing it and hanging on but doing it to excel, everybody in their position. 

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“You put a little kick in there was like three of them clearing it up, you try and kick to a certain area of the pitch and (Hugo) Keenan is already cleaning it up and banged it back 50 metres the other way, it’s like no matter what you tried to do if you try to hold the backfield (Johnny) Sexton will just move the ball. It was everything everywhere. I just hadn’t felt that efficiency from a team for a while that makes the difference in the teams that go on to win that competition.”

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