Sir John Kirwan apologises to Losi Filipo victims 'on behalf of all rugby people'

Kelsey Odell said she now suffers from debilitating panic attacks after being punched in the face by Losi Filipo. Photo / Supplied
Kelsey Odell said she now suffers from debilitating panic attacks after being punched in the face by Losi Filipo. Photo / Supplied

All Black great Sir John Kirwan has apologised to the victims of former Wellington player Losi Filipo, 'on behalf of all rugby people'.

Filipo was discharged without conviction after assaulting four people in central Wellington in October last year.

On Tuesday Filipo withdrew from the Wellington Lions 2016 Mitre 10 Cup squad under mounting public pressure.

Kirwan told TVNZ's Breakfast that rugby needs to stand and take responsibility for what has happened.

"I would just firstly like, on behalf of all rugby people, to apologise to the victims. Personally I think what's happened is terrible. There's a wider issue that you guys need to take up, a 17-year-old drinking in town," Kirwan said.

"If you go into any city centre at the moment our youngsters are binge drinking so there's a wider issue.

"What's happened has been horrible for the game and we need to stand up and take responsibility for it. I think they are doing that, however late, but we don't know the details either."

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Filipo was charged with assaulting Kelsey Odell, 22, her boyfriend Hayden Williams, 22, Greg Morgan, 21, and Olivia Samuel, 22. The discharge caused outcry from Filipo's victims, who say they will appeal the decision.

Yesterday NZ Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said he had been in touch with the families of the victims.

"Basically what I said to Kim and Karen [parents of two victims] is sorry - sorry they've had go through this mess, sorry that rugby's put them in this situation," Sorensen told One News.

When asked why New Zealand Rugby only acted after the public outcry, Sorensen said "Look, it's a good question. We've only known about it for a few days to be honest."

Sorensen admitted that New Zealand Rugby should have been more aware.

"We weren't aware of the actual details, the severity of the case. And that's the key here.

"That's the lesson that we've learned. If we'd gone and learned the details of the case I think we would've acted. In fact we would've acted. We should've acted three weeks, we should've acted two months ago".

In a statement yesterday, Filipo said he had made a "huge mistake".

"I understand why the victims of the assault do not want to talk to me and have not taken up an offer of restorative justice, but I would like to publicly apologise for my actions and the damage they caused.

"I will continue to access the personal development and support structures I have engaged with over the past year.

"Though I cannot change what happened I recognise that I have been provided with a second chance and I want to continue to use this opportunity to work hard."

Wellington Rugby chief executive Steve Rogers said the situation was unfortunate for everybody involved.

"Our first thoughts are with the victims of this assault. Wellington Rugby would like to extend our sympathies to the two men and women involved in the incident and reiterate the fact that we do not condone violence in any form.

"We would like to extend an offer of assistance and support to Greg Morgan, a member of our rugby community who we have learned will not be able to play the game due to his injuries."

Rogers said Wellington Rugby would continue to offer Filipo support.

- NZ Herald

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