Former Ireland rugby international Neil Francis has apologised for suggesting that gay people do not have an interest in sport and that the professional sporting environment is not something in which gay people are interested.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball, Francis suggested that the percentage of gay people in professional sport was lower than in the general population, leading to some heavy criticism for his opinions.

However in an interview with Matt Cooper on Today FM this evening, Francis apologises “profusely and unreservedly” and admitted that he had made an error of judgement in the way in which he expressed himself.

"When I got home I had a listen to the interview again and I must say it didn't sound like me at all. I realised that I was in a field of landmines and I stood on one or two," he said.

"Some of the points that I was trying to make were very clumsily made and my language and the analogies I was trying to make were quite poor and quiet poorly expressed. It’s unusual for me not to be able to articulate myself, but in this instance I was not able to do so.

"On reflection, I probably said the wrong things and some of the things I said were extremely clumsy. In this instance, and on reflection, I would like to withdraw those comments and apologise profusely and unreservedly.

"I would consider myself to be reasonably media savvy and I knew I had wandered into a situation where you’re walking on eggshells and some of the people have reacted to what I've said without listening to the interview, which was very disappointing."

Francis did insist however that some of the criticism he has received has been unwarranted and that there have been quotes attributed to him which he simply did not make.

"Some of the social media sites have attributed comments to me which were absolutely false. Anybody who has any issue with it should listen to it."