Super Rugby
Graham Henry issues public apology
ESPN Staff
May 28, 2013
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan and technical advisor Sir Graham Henry, Blues training session, Unitec, Auckland, New Zealand, January 11, 2013
World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry has been working alongside Blues coach Sir John Kirwan © Getty Images

Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry has issued a public apology after being found guilty of criticising the match officials following the Blues' recent Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders.

Henry, who works as a technical advisor with the Auckland-based Blues, hit the headlines after his side's 23-3 defeat by suggesting the TV match official was "probably a blind TMO" after two controversial rulings. He added that a yellow card awarded to lock Culum Retallick for deliberately knocking down a pass was "b******t" and said it was "ludicrous" that wing Frank Halai wasn't awarded a penalty try in a separate incident.

His outburst landed him with a misconduct charge from SANZAR, the umbrella body governing rugby in South Africa, New Zealand and South Africa, and the 67-year-old faced a disciplinary hearing via teleconference on Sunday. He pleaded guilty to the charge and escaped with a reprimand and also agreed to issue a public apology to referee Glen Jackson and TMO Keith Brown.

Duty judicial officer Jannie Lubbe revealed that Henry had written to SANZAR and conceded that his remarks and comments were inappropriate and he apologised stating it was never his intention to offend the officials involved. In his ruling, Lubbe also took into account the fact, "that Sir Graham has never before found himself in a situation like this" and "his exemplary record as a rugby coach stretching over 40 years."

Henry issues his public apology on Tuesday.

"On Sunday, I accepted that I had breached the SANZAR Code of Conduct with comments I made to the media last week following the Blues' game against the Crusaders," Henry said. "This statement is an apology to the match officials who may have taken offence to my comments and to SANZAR.

"I accept that my comments to the media last week went beyond that which SANZAR deem acceptable under the Code of Conduct. Accordingly, I want to apologise to SANZAR and to the match officials involved for my comments, and for any offence they may have felt, as this was certainly not my intention. My intention was to try to respond to media questions in relation to matters I thought were important, in an honest but humorous style. I clearly failed to achieve that and in some respects, I accept my comments went too far in criticising the match officials.

"I recognise there is a SANZAR Code of Conduct to be followed and I will take more care to adhere to these standards in the future when I am answering media questions about matters which both the media, and the fans are interested to hear from us about."

Henry is no stranger to controversy having previously alleged match-fixing took place at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and his latest outburst came just a week after the Stormers were hit with a hefty fine after being found guilty of misconduct and bringing the game into disrepute for abusing a match official.

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