Ellis Genge and Brian Moore in war of words as England ace offers pundit flowers

Leicester Tigers prop Ellie Genge has fired back at Brian Moore after the BBC pundit suggested the prop was guilty of undermining officials.

Neither Genge nor Tigers team-mate Dan Cole started for the league-leaders during Saturday's 26-20 defeat away to Premiership titleholders Harlequins. It was during that period on the sidelines the prop pair were seen addressing an official following a scrum penalty to the hosts, which Moore saw as an attempt to apply pressure.

“At one point in the game both Ellis Genge and Dan Cole were berating one of Barnes’ assistant referees whilst they were warming up as substitutes in the in-goal area," the ex- England hooker wrote for the Telegraph . "They were obviously disagreeing with Barnes’ decision that held the Tigers’ front row as being responsible for a collapsed scrum.

“Whilst both those players have broad knowledge of the scrum, neither should be allowed to engage with any official until they are actually playing on the pitch and even then, they should only do so in an appropriate manner.”

Rugby has strict rules when it comes to players addressing the officials, one aspect that's rightly praised in comparison to other sports. Skippers (or vice-captains acting in their absence) are usually the only players permitted to speak with the referee or their assistants.

Quins ultimately won both halves in an enthralling contest, where a late Andre Esterhuizen try proved to be the difference between the two teams. Despite suffering a fourth defeat of the season so far, 27-year-old Genge was in high enough spirits to aim a light-hearted retort in Moore's direction.

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"Nothing but respect for the officials who manage the game, would never try to undermine any official, I am so sorry that you viewed it that way Brian," he wrote on Twitter, citing a link back to Moore's column. "I’d like to extend and (sic) apology on behalf of myself and Dan, where can I address the flowers? Love your work by the way."

Genge has 36 England caps to his name and has grown into a leadership role for the national team, while soon-to-be 35-year-old Cole is the fourth most capped England player of all time (95). While the former's response may have been tongue-in-cheek, both Leicester stars know better in regards to rugby etiquette.

On one hand, Genge—who will rejoin Bristol Bears this summer—is a fine example of the new-age rugby player willing to engage on social media, with a reputation for his droll sense of humour. But while rugby is desperate to boost its entertainment factor as a means of attracting new fans, not affording officials their due respect is a rising trend that players have a responsibility to stamp out.

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