James Haskell apologises for ‘disrespecting women’s game’ after social media comment to Bristol’s Simi Pam

Bristol’s Simi Pam responded to post which listed England’s most capped front-row forwards to point out that retired Red Roses prop Rocky Clark has more than any of the men listed. Haskell replied saying: ‘Have a day off’, claiming ‘we have championed women’s rugby more than anyone else’

Last Updated: 17/05/22 2:07pm

James Haskell has released a video apology via Instagram, for comments made to Bristol player Simi Pam

James Haskell has apologised for “disrespecting women’s rugby” after comments he made on social media to Bristol player Simi Pam on Monday.

In response to an Instagram post put out by Haskell’s rugby podcast The Good, The Bad & The Rugby, which listed the most capped England ‘front-row forwards’ including Jason Leonard, Dylan Hartley and Steve Thompson, Pam pointed out that retired England Women’s player Rocky Clark (137 caps) actually has more than the men listed, but was left out.

The original post, which read: Most England Caps, Front-row forwards

The original post, which read: Most England Caps, Front-row forwards

She posted: ‘I think you meant to say ‘most England caps – MALE front row forwards’. Please stop disrespecting the women like this. Because the way you’ve named this list, we know Rocky Clark tops it. Please do better @goodbadrugby’.

James Haskell apologises for 'disrespecting women's game' after social media comment to Bristol's Simi Pam

Haskell’s response was first to reply ‘@simipam have a day off.’, before deleting the comment and posting: ‘We have done more to champion woman’s [sic] rugby than anyone else. We created a show called good scaz rugby all about the female game. If we were talking on that show we would have said women, female whatever you wanted. By making a fuss over stuff like this you weaken your point and actually set yourselves back. Pick your battles and try to be positive.’

In between the two comments, Pam – who as well as playing for Bristol, works as a doctor – replied: ‘As someone who has been a guest on your spin off show @goodscazrugby, hearing that this is how you respond to being corrected for a mistake is very telling.

‘I won’t have a day off – why don’t you just do better and stop disrespecting your female fan base and their role models?’

James Haskell apologises for 'disrespecting women's game' after social media comment to Bristol's Simi Pam

Haskell then proceeded to block Pam, and several other posters who disagreed with his takes.

On Tuesday, he released a three-minute video apology via Instagram, in which he says: “I really feel like my silence has left a void which people are filling with untruths, character assassinations and pretty aggressive comments about me and my integrity.

“Yesterday on the Good, Bad and Rugby podcast we posted about Steve Thompson and the amazing journey he’s on.

“It was captioned: ‘England’s most capped front-rowers ever’, with a picture of Thompson and Dylan Hartley. We should have put the ‘men’s most capped England front-rowers ever’, without doing that we marginalise people like Rocky Clark and we cause offence.

“So because of that we were inundated with public comments and it was a genuine mistake which was quickly rectified. Obviously within these comments they weren’t always put in the most positive way.

“I’d walked off stage pretty pumped after doing a live show, full of adrenaline, I find out we’ve walked into a bit of a media storm and I frankly didn’t get my reaction right.

Haskell, 37, retired from rugby in 2019

Haskell, 37, retired from rugby in 2019

“I posted without thinking because I felt as a company and individuals we were being attacked. We try so hard to get things right and promote women’s rugby in the right way.”

Reacting to the post via Twitter, Clark herself responded saying: The way @RockyClark_1 looks @jameshaskell and @GoodBadRugby when they leave her off the most capped front row list đź‘€

Haskell added in his video: “For me to tell a fellow player to ‘have a day off’ was not respectful and made light of a cause they are fighting passionately for.

“It’s a cause that everybody at Good, Bad Rugby, myself included, is a 100% aligned with. I deleted that comment after a couple of seconds, social media people screenshot stuff.

“I replied with what I thought was a much more succinct comment that I feel attacking people already on your side – so I feel like we are on the side of women’s rugby.

James Haskell apologises for 'disrespecting women's game' after social media comment to Bristol's Simi Pam

“So by attacking us you trivialise your point and polarise opinion. That original post was on our Good, Bad Rugby channels which is predominantly about men’s rugby and that if we had made the point elsewhere we could understand the reaction.

“I stand by this point, however, I am aware I have not faced any of the struggles so many in the women’s game face so passions do run high.

“We can all agree there are better ways to handle these things. I truly didn’t intend to disrespect women’s rugby and no way did my reply mean to cause offence.

“I’m a huge advocate, if you believe it or not, of the women’s game and my track record backs that up.”

The Good, The Bad, & The Rugby eventually took down the original post, and put up a new one which read: men’s front-row forwards.

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