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News article – Style D 604

22nd August 2002 By Munster Rugby

News article – Style D 604

Neil Back has admitted that he now regrets the infamous piece of ‘handiwork’ that tarnished May’s Heineken Cup final win in Cardiff.

It may have come three months too late for most Munster fans, but Leicester flanker Neil Back has finally admitted that he now regrets the infamous piece of ‘handiwork’ that tarnished May’s Heineken Cup final win in Cardiff.

With Leicester narrowly ahead in a thrilling injury-time finale, Back was caught on camera illegally scooping the ball with his hand back from a Munster scrum put-in, with the Irish side applying heavy pressure near the Tigers’ line in the final throes of the game.

After receiving heavy criticism from both sides of the Irish Sea for his actions however, back told The Mirror newspaper this week: “In a way I wish I hadn’t done it.

“I must be honest, because I don’t like people thinking I’m a cheat.

“I don’t think I’m a cheat, but this has undoubtedly tarnished my reputation and that is disappointing. I’d hope people would evaluate me over my career and not just label me for one incident.”

Speaking the week after the high-profile clash, Leicester and England skipper Martin Johnson said in his regular Planet Rugby column: “Things like that always go on, just that the TV cameras never see them.

“If it gives an advantage to your team, obviously you re going to say great, and if the opposition do it you won t be happy, but these things happen – just not always in the last minute of a major final.”

But with some media and fans alike not making it easy to forget the incident, the perpetrator himself added this week: “I don’t know how many letters the club received, but there were probably 50 addressed to me.

“They came from Ireland but also from Leicester which is disappointing. It was a bit hurtful to me and upsetting to my wife Alison.

“If I thought there was a positive way of redressing what happened I would certainly think about doing it because I don’t like to think there are people out there who, because of one incident, regard me as a cheat.”

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