Canada’s Josh Larsen was kicked out of Tuesday’s Rugby World Cup match against South Africa for foul play.
Larsen, 25, threw himself against a prone Thomas du Toit, while the South African was trying to win the ball off the ground in a ruck. The problem with Larsen’s approach was that he made contact with du Toit’s head.
World Rugby has been very focused on altering player behaviour and has instituted a frame work which is supposed to have no leeway: if you hit a defenceless player in the head, it’s a red card.
Larsen did that and it was a slam-dunk call for referee Luke Pearce.
Post-match, Larsen did something that’s not often seen: he asked to apologize to du Toit and his teammates for his act of foul play. The South Africans had smashed the Canadians 66-7 but the spirit of the game was more important to all concerned, it would seem.
The Springboks’ social media team caught the whole thing.
“I just wanted to apologize to you guys face-to-face and wish you all the best for the rest of the tournament,” Larsen said to the South Africans, a number of whom were sporting Canadian jerseys. It’s a post-match rugby tradition to trade off shirts when the teams don’t often face other; this was just the third time — and only second time at a Rugby World Cup — that Canada and South Africa had faced each other.
“My intent wasn’t to do that,” Larsen said Wednesday from Japan.
He was sent off the field late in the first half and so with more than half the game to reflect on what had happened, he decided to ask to speak to the South Africans post-match, after the Canadians had left the field.
“That was the least I could do, they were very welcoming and they respected that,” he said.
The South Africans serenaded him for the gesture and offered him a beer, but Larsen declined. He wasn’t feeling in the mood for smashing a cold one in the moment, he explained.
Larsen was born in Nanaimo to New Zealander parents; the family returned down under when he was just a boy and learned rugby in New Zealand. He played for Canada U20 and for the senior Canada team since 2017.
He played for Austin Elite in Major League Rugby this past season and has signed to play for the New England Free Jacks next year.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019