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08th Feb 2022

Denis Hickie hits out at Luke Cowan-Dickie’s post-match Twitter apology

Patrick McCarry

Luke Cowan-Dickie

“Where does it stop?”

Luke Cowan-Dickie will have been in a low place on Saturday night as he and his England teammates went back to the dressing room with the cheers and songs from Scottish players and supporters ringing in their ears.

For the first time since 1984, Scotland managed to retain the Calcutta Cup trophy that they had won the year before. England had led 17-10 after Marcus Smith converted his own try but Cowan-Dickie’s decision to bat away a cross-field kick saw him yellow-carded and the Scots awarded a penalty try.

Following the game, which Scotland won 20-17, the Exeter Chiefs hooker took to Twitter to apologise to the England supporters and his teammates on the national side.

Not everyone feels the likes of Cowan-Dickie and other current players that have held their hand up for on-field transgressions – such as Bundee Aki and Elliot Dee, in recent weeks – needs to do so.

Speaking to‘s House of Rugby, former Leinster and Ireland star Denis Hickie says it is “ridiculous” that players feel the need to apologise for incidents that often happen in a flash, during games.

Luke Cowan-Dickie of England walks off after receiving a yellow card against Scotland. (Credit: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Denis Hickie on Luke Cowan-Dickie apology

Twitter was founded in March 2006, around a year before Denis Hickie retired, at the tender age of 31. The 62-times capped Ireland and Lions star says he is at a loss to why players now would log on to social media to apologise over mistakes.

“It’s ridiculous,” Hickie comments. “I think it’s ridiculous. Like, where does that stop?

“Are we going to have Johnny Sexton texting next week to say, ‘I’m really sorry I missed that kick’? I just don’t understand why players feel the need to.”

“If we take it on face value,” he adds, “that every player is going out there to do their best, and there are going to be mistakes, this idea that we’re going to have this public contrition on social media for errors, when is it going to stop? I just think it is totally ridiculous.”

Show host Greg O’Shea feel World Rugby may soon step in to stop players posting to social media accounts on match-days, at least. Both O’Shea and co-host Megan Williams, an Ireland women’s international, say players with the national team are often advised not to post anything 24 hours before or after matches.

“It’s just unnecessary,” Hickie continues. “People are free to do what they want, and this is the world we are living in, but I think it is good enough to say to your teammates, ‘Look, I messed up there’ than to be issuing public apologies that no-one is looking for.”

That take from Hickie is something current Ireland back-row and Munster captain Peter O’Mahony would ascribe to.

Last year, in his first press briefing after a red card he received against Wales, O’Mahony talked through his mind-set in clearing Tomas Francis out of a ruck [too high, and too reckless] with a snap decision. He commented:

“I’ve always played hard. I’ve always played fairly, in my opinion, and, look, I was 100% wrong in the incident and with what happened, but I think the guys – my teammates – know better than anyone that I was acting with the best intentions for the team, that day. And, unfortunately, that’s what happened.”