Hurricanes and All Blacks star Ardie Savea could face further discipline from Super Rugby officials after he made an offensive gesture towards an opponent during his side’s defeat of the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.
The 39-33 victory has been overshadowed by the incident which saw the usually composed Savea make a throat-slitting gesture towards opposition halfback Ryan Louwrens.
The fiery moment came after Savea was shown a yellow card for his part in a minor on-field scuffle between players and prompted Rebels captain Reece Hodge to complain to match referee James Doleman, that “he’s threatening to kill him”.
Home fans in the crowd at AAMI Stadium made their disappointment with Savea clear both at the time and following the match, while social media erupted with a host of reaction.
Savea himself took the first opportunity he could to apologise, admitting at fulltime to Sky TV that he had gone too far.
“I understand the fans are furious around the gesture that I made, it’s just a heat of the moment kind of thing, you know? It’s footy.
“But I understand, kids are watching us ... that’s out of character for me, so I put my hand up first and I apologise for that.”
However, there’s no doubt Sanzaar will take a close look at what happened, with a request to face a disciplinary panel highly likely.
While many on social media were outraged by Savea’s actions, others were quick to point out just how much this is out of character for a player well-known for his off-field service to the rugby community.
Wallabies first-five and former Rebels player Matt To’omua was one of the first to back Savea.
“Ardie Savea gave a heartfelt apology after the match. He has been a great role model to kids for a long time and I think he deserves our understanding. Maybe we use this to show the importance of owning up to mistakes sincerely apologising?”
Before his yellow card, Savea scored two early tries and set up another.
Richard Hardwick scored two tries within seven minutes for Melbourne to trail by just a point but a 77th-minute try by Jordie Barrett sealed it for the Hurricanes.