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Cockerill hits back after criticism

Richard Cockerill believes that former Tigers prop Martin Castrogiovanni has "sullied" his seven-year playing career with Leicester.

Castrogiovanni's expletive-ridden tirade against Leicester director of rugby Cockerill after Toulon's 25-21 Champions Cup defeat last Sunday is being investigated by competition organisers European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR).

Castrogiovanni sought out journalists in the Leicester press room after the match and unleashed a foul-mouthed rant regarding Cockerill, who Castrogiovanni claimed had suggested the Italy international prop swapped the Tigers for Toulon last year for financial reasons.

Toulon subsequently announced that they have apologised to Leicester following incidents involving Castrogiovanni and Delon Armitage at Welford Road.

EPCR is also assessing allegations that former England full-back Armitage directed offensive language at spectators.

Toulon have announced they will also be examining the evidence and could punish their own players.

"I'm disappointed really," Cockerill told Sky Sports News HQ. "In professional sport, people move on for all sorts of reasons.

"He left a year early from his contract. He wasn't getting picked. He wanted to move on because he was of an age where he wanted to play.

"I put a price on him, he agreed a deal and he moved on. We did it in a very professional manner, as you would expect from Leicester. I was amazed when he called his own press conference... and off he went.

"I'm sure he'll have his explanation for it. I'm sorry that he has sullied what was a fantastic playing career here. He was an icon of the club and a fans' favourite.

"There's lots of things about this place. One thing it isn't is an amateur club. For him to say that, for me, it's disgusting. He needs to make sure he apologises publicly for that. I'm sure he'll get disciplined in the right manner."

In his post-match outburst, Castrogiovanni said: ''I thought f****** Leicester were f****** amateur. I never want to speak with Cockers any more. I just don't like ****s."

Toulon said in a statement: "Toulon has decided to carry out its own inquiry and could sanction the players if it deems it necessary. The Red and Black club has taken the opportunity to apologise to Leicester Tigers for the discomfort caused by these events."

The French Top 14 side are due to face Leicester again this weekend at Stade Felix Mayol, also in the Champions Cup.

Their statement added: "Toulon have taken note of the decision of EPCR to open an inquiry after Leicester decided to report the behaviour of Martin Castrogiovanni and Delon Armitage during and after the Leicester/Toulon match on Sunday.

"Leicester Tigers have reported to EPCR two incidents which the EPCR disciplinary officer is currently looking into in order to determine, among other things, if it is appropriate to take action for misconduct.

"The first incident concerns the allegations that Delon Armitage made insults towards, or in the proximity of, spectators during the match.

"The second incident concerns the allegations that Martin Castrogiovanni criticised the Leicester Tigers sporting director, Richard Cockerill, by using offensive language when addressing representatives of the media after the match."

Armitage, who has a chequered disciplinary history, is alleged to have verbally abused spectators as he departed the pitch for half-time.


From Belfast Telegraph