Wellington Hurricanes forward Du’Plessis Kirifi complained of alleged racial abuse by a crowd at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval during Saturday’s Super rugby collision with the gates of New South Wales.
The 25-year-old boy, whose father is Samoan, raised his middle finger to the crowd after the Hurricanes won 22-18 and said it was a reaction to racial insults.
“I love when the crowd is spinning and throwing chatter from the stands. But there is a queue, and the fact that you are in the crowd does not give you the right to talk about my mother or my race, “Kirifi wrote on social media.
“Abuse from the outside is part of our job, and it’s a part I personally love, but it doesn’t justify racial insults or comments about my family.”
Kirifi apologized for the hand gesture after the match, saying he wore a heart on his sleeve and wasn’t perfect.
“If I had time again, I would definitely have acted differently,” he added.
The Hurricanes leadership defended Kirifi’s reaction.
“He regrets what he did, but I can fully understand why he did it – in a fit of rage, after allegedly hearing such language,” CEO Avan Lee told New Zealand media.
Kirifi’s complaint overshadowed Varata’s preparations for this weekend’s Cultural Round, in which Australian teams acknowledge the contribution of indigenous players to the sport.
The Varatah family said they were disappointed to learn of Kirifi’s allegations and were looking for more information about the alleged incident.
However, no reports of abuse were filed or identified by CCTV footage, a spokesman said Wednesday.
“There is no place for racism in society, and such behavior will not be tolerated,” Varata said. “The Gates of New Wales celebrate the multicultural diversity of our team and proudly embrace the inclusion of all cultures and races in rugby.”