Neil Francis Apologises For 'Off The Ball' Comments


Rugby pundit, Neil Francis “apologises profusely” to anyone who “felt offence with what I said”.


The former Irish rugby international was the target of criticism after he appeared on Newstalk’s ‘Off The Ball’ on Sunday, and made comments about homosexuality in sport which many people found offensive. He commented, “If you did a survey of the hairdressing industry, how many heterosexuals work in that? Gay men don’t play sport because it is too manly.”

Following the backlash, Francis accepted an invitation to feature on Matt Cooper’s ‘The Last Word‘ yesterday evening to defend his position. The Today FM programme also featured Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens, who came out as gay in 2005.

Francis explained how he felt when he reflected on his comments. He said, “When I got home I had a listen to the interview again. And I must say, it didn’t sound like me at all in a sense.

“A lot of people who listened to it said ‘that’s not your form’. I realise that I was in a field of landmines, and I stood on one or two.

“Some of the points that I was trying to make were very clumsily made and my language and the analogies I was trying to make were quite poor and quite poorly expressed. It’s unusual for me not to be able to articulate myself but in this instance I was unable to do so.

He added, “I said the wrong things and some of the things I said were extremely clumsy. In this instance and on reflection I would like to withdraw those comments and apologise profusely and unreservedly on any issue that might have served with anybody who heard them or who felt offence with what I said.”

When asked how he felt about the apology, Welshman Nigel Owens commented, “It’s good that he has been able to go back and reflect on what he said. We all make mistakes in our lives.

“I certainly hope that Neil’s apologies are genuine and from the heart and not something that he is saying now that he is being sort of pressurised with all the outpouring from all walks of life, Irish players, Welsh players; people all over Twitter and stuff over the last 24 hours and Facebook have been condemning his words. If his apologies are genuine then it is good to hear that he is apologising.”

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