Johnny Sexton’s World Cup preparation could be impacted as he faces EPCR investigation

Reports that Irish outhalf could be disciplined for dissent to officials during Leinster’s game with La Rochelle

The EPCR’s investigation into the behaviour of Ireland captain Johnny Sexton in approaching match officials following the conclusion of La Rochelle’s 27-26 Heineken Champions Cup Final victory over Leinster at the Aviva Stadium on May 20th is believed to be ongoing.

The Ireland captain, who missed the European rugby showpiece occasion through injury, approached South African referee Jaco Peyper and his English assistants Christophe Ridley and Karl Dickson on the pitch after the final whistle, where he communicated his feelings.

According to media reports over the weekend, the 37-year-old is alleged to have made adverse comments to the officials and as a result may face misconduct charges. It is further suggested that a letter from EPCR, the tournament’s governing body, to Leinster outlines the fact that an official or the officials viewed Sexton’s actions as “intimidating.”

EPCR has been in contact with Leinster and the match officials as part of an investigation to establish if there are grounds for misconduct charges and whether Sexton has a case to answer. When contacted by The Irish Times EPCR said they had “no comment” to make on the matter.


Sexton signed a contract extension in early March that would take the Irish captain up to the end of the World Cup in France in October. He picked up a groin injury in the 73rd minute of Ireland’s Grand Slam clinching victory over England at the Aviva Stadium on March 18th and later that month had a procedure to repair the damage, thereby ruling him out of the remainder of Leinster’s season.

The injury was a hugely disappointing finale to his Leinster career, one that had begun against the Border Reivers in 2006 and in which he had made 189 appearances, scoring 1646 points, winning four European Cups among other honours.

If Sexton is called to a disciplinary process and subsequently found guilty it would threaten his participation in one or all of Ireland’s warm-up matches against Italy on August 5th and England on August 19th, both in Dublin and their final tournament prep game against Samoa in Bayonne on August 26th. At this stage it is not clear when he will be physically fit to play.

There is also a possibility that the EPCR investigation will conclude without any disciplinary process against the player. When approached Leinster and the IRFU both said that they had no comment to make on the matter.

The extended 42-player Ireland squad for the Rugby World Cup will assemble at the High Performance Centre (HPC) for the first block of preseason training on Sunday, June 18th.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer