Darcy Swain 'angered' by England's Jonny Hill and 'assault I'd never experienced before'

·2-min read
Despite Darcy Swain’s red card, Australia went on to win 30-28 - AP
Despite Darcy Swain’s red card, Australia went on to win 30-28 - AP

Darcy Swain has said that Jonny Hill provoked him in a manner that he had never experienced before in his professional career before headbutting the England lock in the first Test last weekend.

Swain was sent off after the incident that also saw Hill shown a yellow card for hair-pulling. The Australia second row argued that his behaviour did not meet the threshold for a red card, and that he was merely attempting to “send a message”, but was banned for two weeks and will miss the rest of the series.

“He had hurt me, deliberately, three times during the game, including a really forceful pulling of my hair,” Swain told this week’s hearing. “I have never been treated in the way Hill treated me in a professional game before, and it hurt, and surprised me, and angered me.

“He first hit me in the face about 15 minutes earlier. I was standing to the side of a ruck, and he moved forward and struck me in the face with his open palm. It was forceful, and it hurt. Nothing was done about it, but I kept my cool and did not retaliate.

“Then in the maul immediately before my red card, he struck me in the face again, this time with his elbow. Then, as I tried to avoid that and get the ball, he grabbed a large chunk of my hair, and pulled it forcefully. It hurt, a lot.”

Hill’s actions were considered as mitigation when the panel weighed up Swain’s punishment. The sanction was given an initial entry-point of six weeks before that was halved and then reduced by a further week. In any event, Swain will not feature over the remainder of England’s tour.

Jonny Hill was sent to the sin bin over the same incident - SHUTTERSTOCK
Jonny Hill was sent to the sin bin over the same incident - SHUTTERSTOCK

“Unfortunately I didn’t control myself, as I had done earlier,” Swain added. “I was angry that he was assaulting me like this, and I wanted him to get the message it wasn’t okay.

“I pulled him toward me and moved my head forward to try and send him a message. I wasn’t really thinking about it, and wasn’t actually trying to headbutt him. But I accept my head did make contact with the side of his head.

“I shouldn’t have done it. I’m sorry I did. I was severely provoked in a way I have never seen in elite rugby before, but I know that I shouldn’t have done it.”

Hill, who has retained his place in England’s starting line-up, confirmed in a written statement that he “had absolutely no symptoms as a result of the incident” and “holds no ill feelings towards” Swain.

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