Cipriani ‘truly sorry’ for scuffle that leaves his England future in doubt
The fly-half’s club Gloucester offered him their “full support”.
Danny Cipriani says he is “truly sorry” for the “completely unacceptable” scuffle that saw him plead guilty to charges of common assault and resisting arrest.
The England fly-half has been fined £2,000 by Jersey Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £250 compensation for the bruised neck suffered by a policewoman during the confrontation outside the Royal Yacht Hotel in St Helier on Wednesday.
While his club Gloucester have come out in “full support” of the playmaker they signed in May, the Rugby Football Union has declined to comment leaving his England Test future hanging in the balance only two months after it was relaunched in South Africa.
Cipriani released an apology on his Twitter account, before later telling the Times of his huge “regret” about the incident.
Hours after his appearance in court, Cipriani released his personal statement expressing his remorse while emphasising the measured view of the magistrate on the incident.
“I want to start with a heartfelt apology. To my club, team-mates, supporters and most importantly the police,” Cipriani said.
“They have a tough and vital job and I’m mortified that, earlier this week, I acted in a way that I hugely regret. I am truly sorry.
“I would also like to put on record the words of the magistrate Sarah Fitz who publicly stated that ‘it was a minor incident’ and ‘a fine is more than sufficient’.
“I was wrong to argue with a bouncer, and pull on his camera tie. I was also wrong to resist arrest.
“This is why I pleaded guilty to these two charges and all other charges were dropped by the prosecution.”
He later told the Times he had gone through “24 hours thinking about what happened”, adding: “I hugely regret what happened. I just want to talk to the female police officer and apologise.”
Cipriani initially faced additional charges of assaulting police, larceny and being disorderly on licensed premises after being detained in the early hours of Wednesday, but these were later withdrawn.
“I was initially confused as to why I was being arrested by three officers,” Cipriani said.
“This led me to react in the wrong manner for a matter of seconds, seeking to hold off the police officers rather than accepting their decision.
“It goes without saying, given the words of the magistrate, that I didn’t strike anyone or initiate aggression in any way.”
A first start in a decade saw the fly-half set-up the crucial try in the third Test victory in Cape Town that ended England’s six-game losing run, raising the prospect of his involvement in next year’s World Cup.
But this latest lapse of judgement, which lengthens an already extensive disciplinary record, threatens to cast him straight back into the international wilderness so soon after succeeding in his two-and-a-half-year quest to persuade Eddie Jones that he is too gifted to be overlooked.
Cipriani hopes that the affair will not undo his good work.
“I have spent a long time trying to focus on the things that matter,” he told The Times. “I fought hard to win a return to the England team and felt huge honour to represent the country in South Africa early in the summer. I am also incredibly excited to be playing for Gloucester next season. I am grateful that they have supported me over recent days.
“I have made mistakes in the past and was adamant it would never happen again. I have tried to behave professionally, to train to the best of my ability, to eat the right things, to do extra physical training in my own time. I know how precious these years are in my rugby career.
“I work with Steve Black, who is a brilliant mentor. What happened on Wednesday has caused much reflection. I am very grateful to the magistrate, who said that the incident was minor. But I am in no doubt that it was completely unacceptable.”
I want to start with a heartfelt apology. To my club, team-mates, supporters and most importantly the police. Danny Cipriani
All eyes will now be on Jones. Possibly signposting his reaction to the events in Jersey were comments made by England’s head coach in May when discussing his selection: “If he’s on the front page for any other reason (other than rugby) he won’t be with us,” he told Sky Sports News.
He added: “The baggage doesn’t worry me. It’s how he behaves in front of me. I can’t control what he’s done in the past. All I can do is control what he does in the future.”
Cipriani’s coach from his time at Sale, Steve Diamond, thinks his old player deserves to continue his international career.
“It would be too harsh,” Diamond told BBC Radio 5 Live. “England need all the help they can get at the moment and players like him are few and far between. He just has to get his talking back on the field.”