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12th Jun 2023

England international Poppy Cleall ‘headbutted’ opposition coach in half-time bust-up

Charlie Herbert

Poppy Cleall headbutt allegations

Tensions reportedly spilled over in the tunnel as the players headed to their dressing rooms

England rugby star Poppy Cleall is being investigated by the Rugby Football Union over allegations that she ‘headbutted’ an Exeter Chiefs coach at halftime of their Premier 15s semi-final.

Tensions reportedly spilled over at half-time of the match between Saracens and Exeter at Sandy Park on Sunday.

Sarries were 14-0 up at the break but the Telegraph reports that there was a fracas in the tunnel as both teams went in to the half-time break.

Steve Salvin, Exeter’s assistant coach, and Juan Figallo, the Saracens women’s scrum coach, are also among those thought to be involved in the incident with Cleall. 

A source told the Telegraph that Salvin was unhappy with Cleall talking to the referee as the two sides headed to their dressing rooms.

Poppy Cleall in action for England at this year’s Six Nations (Getty)

He apparently shouted something that upset Cleall, who reacted and leant in towards Salvin before giving him a “soft headbutt.”

In a statement, the RFU said: “We are investigating reports of an alleged incident. Should a charge be brought, we will provide an update.”

Cleall returned to the pitch in the second half as Exeter produced a remarkable comeback to win 24-21 thanks to a late Eilidh Sinclair try.

Exeter and Saracens have declined to comment.

The semi final defeat for Sarries means that for the first time since the Premier 15s was set up in 2017, they will not be in the final.

Exeter will take on Gloucester-Hartpury on June 24 at Kingsholm for the title.

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