Elite sportsmen in Australia and community standards: will the two ever meet?

Yesterday evening saw what would appear to be the end of the Kurtley Beale texting and plane argument scandal.  For those who missed it Beale was charged with two serious breaches of the ARU Code of Conduct related to the sending of two offensive whatsapp messages about a female staffer of the Australian Rugby Union and was found guilty of one breach and not guilty of the other.  Beale was fined $45,000 and had his playing rights reinstated with immediate effect.

The whatsapp messages sent, based on what has been published in the media, were abhorrent.  As a male, indeed as a human being, there is no other way to feel about them.  Sent in jest or not, there can be no cogent excuse for sending them.

Starting from that very low benchmark; viz, that there can be no cogent reason for having sent the message that Beale was proved to be sent, what has galled me most about the “Beale Imbroglio” is the Australian Rugby Union’s seemingly complete divorce from the reality of community standards or even the standards of a corporate employee.

The fact is that if I had have sent a message like that which Beale sent about a fellow employee of the organisation that employs him:

  • I would not have been stood down with pay;
  • nor would I have been given the opportunity to front an independent tribunal to plead my case (with legal representation);
  • nor would I have received broad public support, in defiance of my employer, from the senior people within my employer; and

I work for one of the largest professional services firms in the world; an organisation much larger and much more profitable than the ARU.   Whilst I am not an owner of said business, I sit in a moderately senior position and there is no way that if I had have conducted myself in the way Beale has that I would still have a job.  I have an employment contract and work for an employer that takes issues of sexual harassment / vilification very seriously and I would have had that employment contract terminated for cause if I had have sent the proven text message that Beale sent.


The foregoing of course ignores all of the prior conduct of Beale in the last 18 months including:

  • Punching the captain of his domestic team whilst on tour in South Africa and being sent home.
  • Being photographed in a Hungry Jacks restaurant at 3am on the day before a test match against the British and Irish Lions in significant breach of team rules (for which he was not penalised).
  • Arguing on a long haul flight with various management staff of the Wallabies over the hefty issue of being told to put another t-shirt, again as a result of Beale breaching team rules.

With that sort of “rap sheet” surely Beale must have been on his final warning?  Again, if Beale worked for any employer in the community other than a sporting team he would have received at least two warnings for this conduct and would have been on a “final warning”.

I wrote this when Beale was last in trouble https://shumpty77.com/2013/06/28/kurtley-beale-can-i-have-his-employment-contract-or-that-of-any-sportstar-for-that-matter/ and my comments there hold true.  This latest saga again does nothing other than prove that the Australian Rugby Union is significantly out of touch with the standards of the community.  Just because Beale, or any other player, is good at Rugby Union should not elevate him to a position above that of an ordinary member of the community should it?

In the title to this post I have gone further than just mentioned the ARU and included elite sportmen as a whole (in Australia) in this post.  That is because of the conduct of Paul Gallen, New South Wales Rugby League captain, poster boy for the NRL and guilty drug cheat.  Earlier this week, after the sacking of Cronulla Sharks CEO Steve Noyce, Gallen, from his holiday in Hawaii, tweeted a highly offensive tweet referring to the leaders of the National Rugby League by reference to a descriptive word that society considers to be in the worst category of slurs.

Gallen has apologised, albeit with one of the most strained apologies I have ever seen and deleted the tweet, and the NRL has announced it will be investigating however, based on past outcomes of NRL investigations the outcome of that investigation will inevitably be a fine.

This again shows just how outside of community standards the sporting codes in this country are: I have 1100 twitter followers and if I posted a tweet to my account calling the leaders of my employer the term used by Gallen what would be the result? You guessed it: I would be out of a job, again for cause and again with immediacy.

At some point the leaders of the sporting codes in Australia must take notice of the standards of the community in dealing with their employees.  The codes have advanced exponentially in the two decades when it comes to professionalism and quantum of money earned in the game.  Unfortunately the manner in which players are disciplined remains back in the days when Rugby Union was an amateur game and Rugby League was split on border lines.

The Beale saga, more so than that of Gallen, is replete with victims.  Di Patston has been vilified in the press, lost her job and is in treatment.  Ewen McKenzie felt compelled to resign.  There are also a whole tranche of victims who are presently unrecognised: the future potential generation of rugby fans who will not become fans of the game because their fathers, mothers, uncles, grandfathers (etc), like me, are so now disaffected with the game that they will not deign to take them to games any more.  I will be not going to games in 2015 and that means my nephews will also not be going which makes them victims too.

Players of professional sports are employees just the rest of us: surely at some point they have been treated that way because presently they are not and it is damaging the brand of the game.  It is that simple!

The Weekend Mega Multi: Sport, sport and more sport!

It is the weekend and that means there is more than enough sport to keep punters interested.  Here is my seven leg multi bet for this weekend’s action:

  • Leg 1: Manly to cover the line (-2.5 points) against Canterbury in the NRL.
  • Leg 2: Toronto Blue Jays to defeat the St Louis Cardinals in the MLB.
  • Leg 3: Texas Rangers to cover the line (-1.5 runs) against the Cleveland Indians in the MLB.
  • Leg 4: Essendon to defeat Greater Western Sydney by 40 points or more in the AFL.
  • Leg 5: Australian Wallabies to cover the line (-1.5 points) against France in the Rugby Union test.
  • Leg 6: Maria Sharapova to cover the handicap (-3 games) against Simona Halep in the French Open Womens final.
  • Leg 7: LA Kings to defeat the New York Rangers in the NHL.

This multi should return around $90 for every dollar invested.

As always:

  1. Please gamble responsibly.
  2. All care is taken with my tips but no responsibility for losses.

Shumpty’s Punt: Super Rugby Round 1 multi

For something new this season I have decided to put my money where my mouth is and back my tips published on pinkrugby.com each week in the form of a multi bet.

The rules of engagement will be simple: I will back exactly the teams I have selected in the preview each well and the wager each week will be $50.  Rather an muck around with margins and the like I will simply be backing the team I select in each game to be the winner.  i will keep a rolling tally of the profit from this enterprise on this blog each week.

This week is a short round of matches with only 4 teams in play.

I have selected the Cheetahs and the Sharks to be victorious tonight and as both are short price favourites the payout will only be $1.63 but still any return is a good return.

As always: good luck and good punting and please gamble responsibly.

Wallabies and the 2015 World Cup: Super 15 a prerequisite

Ewen McKenzie has been reported in the press today as saying that he will not consider any player who is not signed with a Super Rugby franchise for selection for the 2015 World Cup. This is absolutely the right decision from the coach and is to be lauded.

To quote the coach:

“You can’t have guys cherry picking their way through and grabbing all the trinkets along the way, you’ve actually got to make a commitment”


“We need people to invest in Australian rugby, so they’re around promoting the game, pressing the flesh, doing the coaching clinics, developing the game on and off the field:

Well said Link!!!!

This is, of course, different to the contracting position in South African rugby where players may take contracts outside of Super Rugby and still be selected for the Springboks. That said, there is a very key distinction between the state of the game in South Africa and Australia. In Australia, Rugby Union is running a distant 3rd as a winter sport to the NRL and AFL whereas in South Africa rugby union is the national game. The need for the stars of the game in Australia to commit to the game here and thereby invest in rugby in the fashion suggested by Ewen McKenzie has probably never been more important.

All of this means that players of the like of Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, James O’Conner and Drew Mitchell will all miss out on selection in the 2015 World Cup unless they are back in Super 15 colours by the start of the 2015 season. Ioane, of that quartet, is the only one that really presents as a prospect for the 2015 World Cup in my view and will have a decision as to whether he follows his wallet or his heart.

Rugby in this country has many disadvantages and does not need to reduce its image further by resorting to players who do not support the game and its development in this country no matter who good they might project to be in the team. For taking this stand the ARU and the coach are to be saluted. Now bring on this weekend’s test match and then, in February 2014, the start of Super 15 rugby!

Sanity finally prevails: O’Connor released from his ARU contract

James O’Connor has been released from his contract with the Australian Rugby Union and will not be selected for the remaining six games of the Test season. Additionally, the ARU has confirmed that he will not be offered a salary top-up next year which could cost him somewhere in the vicinity of $300,000 next year if someone deigns to contract him to ply in Super Rugby in 2014.


I salute the ARU for taking this step. The continuing breaches of team rules and the contractual arrangements by which O’Connor was employed by the ARU simply could not be let stand and anyone who suggests to the contrary is just flat out wrong.

I am heartened by the statement released by O’Connor in the aftermath of this decision in which he is quoted as saying:

"I recognise that given my actions and the circumstances it is best for the team and myself to go in different directions in the short term. I remain focused on earning my place back with the Wallabies and will be looking for the right opportunity to do this.”

I hope he can come back from this because his, largely unfulfilled, talent is prodigious to say the least.

More to the point though I hope that the ARU and the Wallabies selectors remain firm on this new position they are taking when it comes to player behaviour. It is heartening to see that, despite the rebuilding phase we are going through presently, behaviour such as that of O’Connor’s will no longer be countenanced and, indeed, rewarded as it was during the “Deans era”.

Since when was $196,000 not enough to play for your country?

In the world of rugby today the big news, aside from the ongoing hand wringing that surrounds the Wallabies in general at the moment, was the prospect of Ben Mowen leaving these shores to ply his trade in Europe because of a pay dispute with the ARU.

The story is that he has signed with the Brumbies through 2015 but that that contract has been predicated upon Mowen receiving an ARU top up. The ARU, having spent the GDP of a small country to keep I Folau among others in Wallaby gold, does not have the cash to pay such a top up.

I was sympathetic to the case of Mowen, after all he is the current incumbent for the captaincy of the country and has improved markedly over the last year to secure a spot in the Wallabies line up. Then I read that each Wallabies player earns $14,000 per game. Further, assuming Mowen is selected for all 14 games the Wallabies play this season, he will earn $196,000 on top of his contract with the Wallabies. AND any top up payment will further increase the sum to be paid to Mowen for the honour to represent his country.

Are you kidding me? $14,000 per game is not enough? I know it is a professional game now but can anyone put their hand on their heart and say that the price of representing ones country should be one cent more than the exorbitant amount already paid?

Much like my response to rugby league players breaking contracts to enhance their value on the market, I have a simple response to the grab for cash currently being undertaken by a player seen as a future captain: go and play in Europe! Because frankly: if $196,000 is not enough to keep you in Wallaby gold then I have to question you commitment to that jersey.