Wasps' Lemi says sorry as hand gesture makes waves
Thursday 17 September 2009
Actions speak louder than words, which is bad news for David Lemi, the unusually quiet little Wasps wing who barely says anything to anyone from one season to the next. The Samoan was photographed gesticulating rather rudely in the general direction of some Bath supporters following his club's narrow victory at the Recreation Ground last weekend – an act that earned him a rollicking from the Rugby Football Union, as well as his employers. He is also nursing a busted wrist, although it is not thought the injury was a direct consequence of his sudden penchant for sign language.
"I really regret any gestures that may have caused offence," Lemi said yesterday. "The game was extremely tense and emotional for me personally. I lost myself in the emotion of the win at the final whistle." Tony Hanks, his director of rugby added: "Actions of this nature are out of character for David and although this match was hugely intense and full of drama in the final stages, we do not excuse any action that could bring the game into disrepute. It is not the way we want to express ourselves."
The RFU's chief disciplinary officer, Judge Jeff Blackett, also had a few words to say on the matter. "There is no place for this sort of behaviour in rugby union," he commented, using a form of words that has become all too familiar in recent months. "I am confident Wasps have acted decisively and proportionately in this matter, but I have warned David as to his future conduct."
Lemi, who joined the Londoners from relegated Bristol during the summer and may well prove one of the more valuable signings of the season, is unlikely to reappear before November. His fractured carpal bone means he will be in plaster for a month, and will therefore miss at least four Premiership matches, as well as two rounds of the European Challenge Cup.
There was better news for another Samoan back yesterday. The centre Henry Fa'afili, capped by his country last year, is free to play for Leeds from this weekend following the granting of a visa. Fa'fili's fellow islander, the prop Fosi Pala'amo, and the American front-row forward Mike MacDonald are also awaiting clearance. "It's a question of letting the process take its course, but we're hoping for good news," said Andy Key, the director of rugby at Headingley.
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