London Irish centre Terrence Hepetema has apologised for his high tackle on Leicester Tigers winger Kobus van Wyk.
Hepetema was shown a red card in the 59th minute in what was a cracking encounter between the two mid-table sides in the Gallagher Premiership.
Referee Wayne Barnes was left with little choice in the matter, as the former Auckland Blues player made direct contact to the head of van Wyk, with little effort to wrap his arms.
— Steven Smith🏉 (@media_steven) March 5, 2021
A deluge of red cards have been handed out in recent weeks in the Premiership, with three players sent off in Leicester’s recent match against Wasps, but BT Sport commentator Austin Healey declared Hepetema’s offence the worst of the lot.
“We’ve seen a lot of red cards over the last couple of weeks. That’s one of the worst for me because he’s got loads of time to drop his height and target the ball and actually win the collision legally,” Healey said.
“He actually physically tries to hit him with his shoulder. It’s poor timing, it’s bad technique and there’s malice in it. It’s a definite red card and really avoidable.”
Red card for Terrence Hepetema 🟥
Very bad tackle to say the least 😔 London Irish are down to 14 men. pic.twitter.com/tW1iaBfd2H
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) March 5, 2021
‘I deeply regret what I did’
Hepetema took to Twitter after the game and apologised to van Wyk, insisting that he had no intention of hurting anyone.
“I want to acknowledge my actions last night and apologise to Kobus and my team London Irish.
“It’s never my intention to go out on the field and hurt someone but that was dangerous and not acceptable in the game we play. I deeply regret what I did and hope you’re ok brother,” Hepetema tweeted.
I want to acknowledge my actions last night and apologise to Kobus and my team @LondonIrish. It’s never my intention to go out on the field and hurt someone but that was dangerous and not acceptable in the game we play. I deeply regret what I did and hope you’re ok brother.
— Terrence Hepetema (@TerrenceHepetem) March 6, 2021
Leicester secured a one-point win over the Exiles at Welford Road, in a game that featured seven tries in total.
Despite the loss, London Irish have moved up to fifth place in the Premiership table, thanks to earning a losing bonus-point and a try bonus point.
Leicester meanwhile move up to eighth place, in what has been a much-improved season for the 10-time Premiership champions, after having finished in 11th place last year.