Australian rugby player Elijah Taylor has been banned for the remainder of the 2020 season after he and 18-year-old girlfriend Lekahni Pearce violated COVID-19 protocols.
Last week, Pearce breached the Sydney Swans’ quarantine area to visit 19-year-old Taylor, allegedly jumping fences and crossing a golf course to reunite with her athlete beau. On Tuesday, Pearce apologized for the couple’s actions, calling their missteps “a really big mistake.”
“I am sorry for everything,” Pearce said, according to News.com.au.
Pearce, who also boasts over 3,000 Instagram followers, also dismissed claims she jumped fences to meet Taylor.
“No security, I didn’t see a security guard,” she said in an interview with Australia’s Channel 7. “I just walked through, went to his room. That’s how easy it was. I didn’t jump any fences.”
Taylor’s rendezvous with Pearce was reportedly uncovered by two senior teammates. Syndey was slapped with a $35,000 fine with $17,500 suspended, according to reports.
Sydney coach John Longmire has since addressed Taylor’s suspension and how the consequences to his actions are “sinking in.”
“It’s obviously sinking in and he’s very quiet, as you’d imagine, and no doubt reflective,” Longmire told the media, per News.com.au.
“It’s a very bad decision that he’s made. If you step back, it’s an immature decision and not every player that you get when you go to the national draft has got the same maturity levels and the same backgrounds.”
Taylor later issued an apology on social media, also condemning the racist backlash he received.
“Honestly I’m extremely sorry for being selfish with my actions. I know what I’ve done not only affected me and the players but many others that all love the game,” Taylor posted, according to Yahoo Sports Australia.
“I understand that a lot of people are angry but racism really doesn’t fix anything,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Australian Football League also released a statement calling the derogatory messages directed at Taylor “abhorrent and inexcusable.”
“The AFL condemns in the strongest possible terms the racial vilification of Sydney Swans player Elijah Taylor on social media on Tuesday night,” the statement read.
“The comments posted are abhorrent and inexcusable.
“The AFL have investigated the source of the comments, with the accounts now been reported to Instagram along with referring the matter to the e-Safety Commissioners office.”
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