Johnny Sexton has admitted he apologised to Ireland head coach Andy Farrell for his reaction to being substituted in Ireland’s Super Saturday clash with France.
Ireland needed to win by a seven-point margin going into the Round 5 clash in order to claim the 2020 Guinness Six Nations title but went down to a 35-27 defeat in Paris, with Sexton withdrawn in the closing stages as Ireland sought a way back into the game.
The fly-half’s visibly frustrated response has drawn criticism from the likes of Brian O’Driscoll and Keith Wood this week but Sexton insisted he and Farrell had “moved on” as they switch their focus to the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup.
“I am disappointed in myself with the reaction to a certain extent,” Sexton said.
“You’ve got to take it from my point of view, it’s in the heat of the moment, it’s up there with the biggest games I’ve played in as captain.
“Obviously it’s a low point and I reacted in a bad way for a split second and that’s it really. There’s not a lot more I can say.
“You don’t realise, if someone said to me ‘you’re on the big screen’, I’m not going to do it. If I’d had time to think about it, I wouldn’t have done it.
“But you’re playing in an international, you’re in the heat of battle, you’re captain of the team and you’re disappointed in the performance as much as anything. I’ve got to make sure the lads are in a better place to do what they’re meant to do.
“There’s as much disappointment in the situation as there is in the substitution. The other thing, obviously I need to deadpan it and just walk off. I am who I am.
“I have apologised to the people who matter but I’m not going to sit here and apologise to the whole world because it was a split-second decision I made. I wish I didn’t but I did, so there you go.
“I spoke to Andy after the game and on Sunday, when I realised it was such a big thing, we sorted things out.
“I apologised and said ‘look, it shouldn’t have happened’. It did, it was a split second and obviously let myself down in that regard.
“You learn and you move on really. I suppose it’s not the first apology in my career and it won’t be the last. We’ll move on.
“Thankfully we’ve got a good relationship and there’s no problems going forward.”
Farrell insisted he did not feel ‘undermined’ by the 35-year-old, saying: “Johnny is a passionate guy and it is a reason we all love him as a player, for how long he has been at the top of the Irish game.”
Sexton was the second-highest points scorer in the 2020 Championship with 51, taking his overall Guinness Six Nations tally to 431.
Ireland kick off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign against Wales – a team they beat in the Championship earlier this year – in Dublin on November 13 before taking on England and Georgia in Group A.