An apologetic Ardie Savea has expressed his regret for making a throat-slitting gesture towards a Melbourne Rebels player in the Hurricanes’ Super Rugby Pacific victory on Friday night.
Approaching halftime, Savea was shown a yellow card after both teams exchanged insults in a push and shove from a sacked maul.
But it was Savea’s actions after being told his marching orders that caused a stir, with fans at AAMI Stadium outraged over the incident.
As the Hurricanes captain started to make his way to the sideline, he ran his thumb across his throat and directed the gesture at Rebels halfback Ryan Louwrens.
The visibly frustrated Savea was greeted by boos, with the controversial incident overshadowing a valiant Rebels comeback, as the Hurricanes held on 39-33 to take the ‘Super Round’ spoils.
Savea offered no excuses for his actions and took full responsibility for the rare outburst from the typically relaxed No.8.
“I can understand the fans are furious around the gesture that I made,” he told Sky Sport post-match.
“It’s just a heat of the moment kinda thing. It’s footy.
“Kids are watching us, we’re in the heat of the moment. Usually, that’s out of character for me, so I put my hand up first and I apologise for that.
“I’m just glad to get the win. The Rebels brought it tonight. Credit to them. They were physical with their forward pack, so something for us to look in the mirror [at].”
Savea’s brain fade seems to have stemmed from the innocuous yellow card after he was sent to the bin for “escalating” the situation.
As Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles and Rebels lock Josh Canham wrestled on the ground, players from both teams flooded in, with Savea clashing with first-five Carter Gordon.
Savea explained to the referee he was trying to defuse the situation but was forced to spend 10 minutes on the sideline instead.
“Just normal banter in the game, and for me, to get a yellow card for a push and shove – I guess that’s just the way rugby is going,” he said.
“I’ve got to be better, we’re trying to clean up the game, and I understand and there’s just no excuse from me, I’ve got to be better.”
Before Savea’s sin-binning, the Hurricanes captain played a starring role in his side’s handy halftime lead, with two tries and an assist.
But the Rebels fought back to be within just one point with a couple of minutes remaining until a Jodie Barrett try sealed the win for the Hurricanes.
Savea credited the Rebels for their response and their discipline in a learning moment for himself and his Hurricanes team.
“First and foremost, it’s their discipline that kept them in the game and it probably starts with me as the leader,” he said. “As the leader, I’ve got to lead forward and show the way and it started with me.
“We then got another yellow card, so things got a bit disrupted, but I’m proud of the boys, and the way that we handled the game, [and] finished the game.
“But that’s [a] credit to the Rebels, they played the game and stayed in the whole 80.”
Savea could potentially face further punishment from the SANZAAR judiciary for the incident.