Rugby: Cox says Hape affair water under bridge

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Sean COX today insisted he bore no ill-will towards Shontayne Hape the England centre with whom he clashed in Edinburgh Rugby’s recent Heineken European Cup tie at London Irish to pick up a citing and one-match ban.

Cox was charged with punching after coming on as a substitute when Dave Denton had to retire hurt from a high tackle by Hape who was subsequently banned for four weeks.

Fresh from signing a two-year contract extension with an Edinburgh club he joined from Sale Sharks on a short-term deal during the summer Cox put the record straight in refuting any suggestion of a vendetta.

“Things get blown out of proportion. Only players really know what goes on on the field. Television doesn’t help with the way things are repeated and constantly analysed (but) what happens, happens,” he said. “We had a shake of hands and a bit of banter after the game and what’s good about rugby is when it’s over it’s over. But the citing processes are there for safety and the discipline of the game so I accept my ban and I’ve learned my lesson,” Cox went on, speaking about the incidents for the first time.

The return with London Irish is the last of the group on the weekend of January 21-23.

Keen to defuse any tensions, Cox said: “It’s water under the bridge with me and Shontayne Hape.” Happier highlighting the stunning start which has taken Edinburgh to the top of the group the ex-England under-21 cap predicted 18 points – nine are already in the bag – might be sufficient to qualify.

“You’d be very unlucky not to go through with 18 points but next we have Aironi in the league and they are a very good side.”

Still to be confronted in Europe by Edinburgh are Cardiff and Cox hinted a psychological edge could be achieved since the Welshmen last week beat Aironi 38-0. “Cardiff are flying and they put Aironi away quite comfortably,” said the player who revealed that before moving north he spoke with Sale colleague Barry Stewart, the former Edinburgh and Scotland prop.

Barry was a true professional and you always learn from players like that. He was very helpful with the move,” said Cox.