England full back Delon Armitage returns to rugby this weekend after an eight-week absence.
The London Irish star hasn’t featured since a New Year’s Day altercation with a doping official that created headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Armitage was found to have violently threatened the official and used obsence language following his side’s Aviva Premiership defeat to Bath at the Madejski Stadium.
The QC who presided over Armitage’s appeal hearing described his actions as ‘aggressive, bullying, persistent and threatening,’ hardly the outcome the 27-year-old was looking for as he attempted to win back his England place in time for the RBS 6 Nations.
Armitage missed the entire tournament, watching on as Ben Foden cemented his spot as England’s first-choice 15.
But he finally gets the chance to press his World Cup claims this Saturday when the Exiles host Exeter Chiefs in Reading.
“What I said and what I did was very embarrassing for my family and for the club,” a contrite Armitage said when speaking publicly about the event for the first time.
“It does look terrible and I deeply regret it. I have apologised to the doping officer who was only trying to do his job. Everything came out all wrong. That’s not me.
“Sure, as a younger kid, I was a bit hot-headed but that was a long, long time ago. I don’t want to be remembered only for that. I know that being a role model comes with the territory, whether you like it or not. Kids do look up to you. It’s up to me now to make sure that I’m remembered for good things I do on the field, not for this.
“Again, it was a one-off and I totally regret it. I got what I deserved with the ban. It was justified. I’ve learnt my lesson.”