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Ex-rugby star tells of regret over assault on wife's male friend

By Staff Reporter

Shamed former Ulster rugby star Simon Danielli has said he regrets going to the Co Down home of the man he believed was having an affair with his wife.

Last week, 37-year-old Danielli was convicted of assaulting Michael Browne in the street after spotting him and his wife Olivia "arm in arm" on March 11, 2015.

Charges that the father-of-three assaulted his estranged wife and damaged her phone in the same incident were dismissed by the judge.

"I do regret going there, and I don't like the thought he got any injuries. I didn't want to cause any physical harm to him," he told the Sunday Times.

"I'm 99% sure I will appeal, not that it will get me anywhere, because that ship has long since sailed. I'll now forever be associated with wife beating, the worst thing after paedophilia."

Danielli, from Holywood, spoke of how his conviction and the public breakdown of his marriage had affected his children.

"One of Rocco's friends said his daddy was going to prison for being nasty to his mummy. All the coverage has been about the bruiser of a rugby man beating up another man, and the fact I've been vindicated of assaulting my wife has almost seemed irrelevant," he told the newspaper.

"To an extent, the damage has been done. I didn't have an amazing rugby career, but I'm proud of it, and that's all gone now. Whenever Rocco looks for pictures of me on Google, it's not going to be the tries I scored, it'll be these allegations of violence, and bugging the house. Tragedy is not the word, but it's morally wrong, because none of it is true." He said he didn't hold any hatred, "probably just a sadness really, because we have three children together".

He said: "I would change ever going near them (Olivia and Michael Browne) that night, but I would endure all this 10 times over for my kids. I'm crap at loads of things in life, but being a father is the one thing I know I'm good at. My kids can see what kind of man I am, and so can everyone else who matters."

Danielli paid tribute to those in the rugby world who stood by him, and provided the court with character references. Ireland captain Rory Best gave evidence in court, and others, such as former Ulster player Ian Humphreys, provided written statements.

"These were people who didn't need the hassle, but who had my back because they know me. Know what I'm like, what's in me and what's not.

"Nobody who knows me has ever asked if I did it (assault his wife). That speaks volumes for the characters involved, and I'm not just talking about me."

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