Cockerill: 'The agenda was always to get me banned'
September 8, 2013
Tigers boss Richard Cockerill clashes with the officials during last season's Premiership finale © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has reopened the row over his recent nine-match ban for abusing the officials during last season's Aviva Premiership final by alleging he was the victim of an 'agenda'.
Cockerill was hit with the lengthy suspension after being found guilty of using words that were "obscene, inappropriate and unprofessional" in an exchange with fourth official Stuart Terheege following a late hit on Leicester fly-half Toby Flood during the Tigers victory over Northampton back in May. An appeal against the ban failed and he will be absent when his side kick off the title defence against Worcester at Welford Road today - but will still be quietly seething.
"'Yes, I used industrial language, but not aimed at the officials,' Cockerill told the Mail on Sunday. "Clearly, it offended some people, who then felt fit to tell tales. It's not my style, but you tend to find that what goes around comes around. If people want to be that small-minded, then I say ban me and b******s to you."
Cockerill is no stranger to disciplinary proceedings and served a four-game ban in 2009 after being found guilty of being abusive to officials during an Anglo-Welsh Cup match against Newport-Gwent Dragons but insists the latest incident was not the same. "I used industrial language about the incident, but not directed at the official, as he later confirmed. Then the spinal board was called for Toby and I went down again to tell the official that if the ref didn't start looking after my players, I'd tell my lot at half-time to smash the **** in the Saints team. For that I got reported."
The Tigers' boss is also adamant he has been harshly treated. "I've seen and heard far worse in the players' tunnel and outside the changing rooms between head coaches and officials," he said. "Far worse. Have I ever complained about it? No, it's not my style. The agenda was always to get me banned by the powers that be because they don't like the way I behave.
"Maybe it would help if I was a foot taller, had hair and didn't look like a pitbull. Maybe it would help if I wasn't the Leicester coach. Everyone loves the underdog. Winners are boring."
He added: "I will fight for my players tooth and nail, especially when their jobs and mine are on the line. And it means I will create the best opportunity for my players to win. We always intend to be at the races on game day. I expect the officials to be the same. If they're not then I'm on to them."
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