BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22: A Broncos fan shows his disappointment during the round 20 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium on July 22, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Three years ago I wrote a piece on misogyny and the boorish behaviour often displayed by some NRL players.

Despite shopping the article around, no organisation would publish the piece. The fundamental reason was a fear of offending some of the names contained and the associated media organisations.

In light of recent events, perhaps it should have been published. The lead-up to the 2019 NRL season has been nothing short of crippling. Don’t be fooled into believing that the recent dismissal of Cowboy’s recruit Ben Barba was anything other than the icing on what has become a foul tasting cake.

Dylan Napa has lived a public hell for the past month after footage of his youthful escapades hit social media, Jarryd Hayne and Jack De Belin were both charged with aggravated sexual assault and police decided to continue pursuing the assault charges against the Sea Eagles’ Dylan Walker, despite his fiancée withdrawing her allegations.

Less public were the indecent assault charges against Wests Tiger’s Zane Musgrove and Penrith’s Liam Coleman, yet as a rugby league writer and fan, it has been nothing but a distasteful and depressing period of exposure.

Of most concern is the fact that apart from Adam Elliott’s public nudity and the media stakeout that caught out the Bulldogs and embarrassed the entire club in September, the last four months has seen a litany of incidents arise with misogyny and disrespect/violence towards women at their core.

Yes, there are wonderful men in the game; players, coaches and officials. However, Todd Greenberg’s recent ‘enough is enough’ stance confirms what many feared and knew. The decision to effectively remove Ben Barba from the Australian brand of the game should be applauded, but it also confirms a widely held belief that the issue is cultural and at its heart lies a level of misogyny and disrespect that is no longer accepted; if it ever was.

Many will applaud the tough stance now taken, yet the NRL has allowed the culture to fester and grow with wrist slapping punishments commonplace for years. To now draw the line in the sand appears nothing but reactionary.

Much will be made of the player education investment that the NRL makes each year. NRL players tell me anecdotally that it is essentially a tokenistic process, with the emphasis on having ticked off the requirement, rather than having any long lasting impact or effect on their development into mature young men.

In reality, the game has done little to shape and encourage a better culture, with off-field indiscretions commonly deflated as ‘unfortunate incidents’. How Matt Lodge was permitted to join the Broncos will long remain one of life’s mysteries and the sheer length of Barba’s ‘rap sheet’ says a great deal about the soft message emanating from the NRL.

Indeed some of the men involved in the media coverage of the game may also be a part of the problem. A problem that now exists beyond mere perception. Mark Gasnier’s infamous ‘Fire-up bitch’ incident in 2004 should perhaps preclude him from the privilege and luxury of the commentary work he currently undertakes and how quickly Matthew Johns was able to rebuild his public image after the group sex revelations of 2009.

The talented, new breed of female rugby league broadcasters that includes Lara Pitt, Hannah Hollis and Yvonne O’Keefe, deserves better than having to share space with such men. Both must find it difficult to criticise the players under current scrutiny thanks to their own and acknowledged poor decisions of the past.

Society appears to be shifting; shifting to a place where a zero tolerance exists when it comes to violence and where the promotion of #Respect is seen as paramount in a modern, fair and functioning society.

It appears the NRL, with the stance now taken against Barba, has finally woken up, after paying lip service for so long. Sadly, it appears a little late and the damage done will not be easily remedied.

I’ll still be at my home team’s matches this season because I love the game. As do my two daughters. It is sad that the last four months of headlines has sent them the most horrific and Neanderthal-like perception of NRL players.

The players as a whole are better than that and there is nothing wrong with removing those that aren’t.

31 COMMENTS

  1. I will take a different tack – Better late than never.

    Am getting tired of the continually negative slant no matter what the subject Re: Rugby League.

    How about we stop sinking the boot in all the time.

  2. Phoenix, it is the players within the game that sinking the boot into our game and their brand, I not this article left out the Greg Inglis drink driving charge, and the Sam Burgess phone episodes.

    These players need to respect what they have, respect society, and perhaps a little self respect might go a long way.

    I believe your tact is not well placed.

  3. I agree with you Phoenix. I agree with what the writer Stuart Thomas says on being late, but it feels like everything that happens in the NRL is always viewed negatively. Instead of placing emphasis on the fact that the NRL head office should have done this earlier, lets appluade the fact that this stance has been taken.

  4. I agree with you Phoenix. I agree with what the writer Stuart Thomas says on being late, but it feels like everything that happens in the NRL is always viewed negatively. Instead of placing emphasis on the fact that the NRL head office should have done this earlier, lets applaud the fact that this stance has been taken.

  5. Rigid. I think you are a bit confused and this may be because of the use of the word “tack”. Tack means to change course. He’s saying he’s happy to change course form bagging the game and is saying its “better late than never” that they are now coming down hard. “Tact” means to approach a matter with care and bit all sensitive to peoples feelings. He’s not saying that. To me he’s is saying its good that they will now come down hard on the idiots and lets be happy that the change has finally come.

  6. Great comment Phoenix.
    Why do some players think they can do what ever they like and get away with it???? Enough is Enough march them out of the game and sooner or later the message will get across.
    This alleged incident involving De Belin and his mate is sickening and if this is true then bye bye De Belin for good, after police reports and the allegations it’s beyond me how he play in the NRL.
    I understand innocent until proven guilty but this isn’t always the case.
    As a Dragons supporter my opinion is De Belin should be stood down until the matter is over, he doesn’t deserve to play and I reckon his mind wouldn’t be all there either
    Cheers

  7. How is DeBelin playing after reports his “mate” has stated DeBelin told him to have a chop after he was finished but refused DeBelins offer. DeBelin should not be able to even set foot at training let alone play. Where is the NRL integrity unit and Dragons as a club on the matter. We as a code are disgraceful in public aspects.

  8. Anybody Charged by Police are guilty until proven innocent. Detectives and Police gather the evidence, if they have enough proof then they charge the person. De Belin should have been stood down, In big court cases like this they can stretch out for 12-18 months with the person charged always getting the case adjourned for another date. The season could be over before the De Belin case is finalised.🎱

  9. Whilst Pearce got 8 weeks for nothing, and thugs and women bashers get nothing, the game doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

  10. Frigid Beaver its about time you got something right. “this article left out the Greg Inglis drink driving charge, and the Sam Burgess phone episodes.”
    💪😮👉——🐓🏆

  11. Agreed, Footy players can sexually assault women, snort drugs, speed while drink driving, bash women, make pornographic videos and flash private body parts on Facebook, But if you get drunk in a private premises out of the public eye its 8 weeks, 125k fine and lose the captaincy. FAIRDINKUM❗❕❗❕❗❕❗❕❗❕❗❕

  12. I’ve got to disagree with the general theme in the posts above.
    Brick top, I think you have a genuine point, but at the same time, how many other (some current) players have done as bad/worse in their past, but are now positive role models, particularly for troubled youth?
    Kelby, how’s that a fair arguememt? There was video evidence of Pearce “bringing the game into disrepute”, and you’re comparing that to criminal charges (pre trial). Come on, be fair, and if you’re not prepared to “be fair”, at least be “legally aware” of the concequences.
    WoodChook, I may not be as old as you, but I’m old enough to know you don’t actually believe that.

  13. The problem is Woodchook as you state “big court cases like this they can stretch out for 12-18 months”. So, what if it is determined that the evidence the police have used to charge the player was fabricated? Brett Stewart copped 4 weeks and look at the backlash there, you are talking about a full season….

    Like I said yesterday on another story, I don’t envy the NRL on this, they will get slammed by certain sides of the media and fans either way.

  14. Yes your correct, my thoughts exactly. What if he is innocent❓❔❓ or what if he is guilty and he goes onto win a premiership with Saints. See back in 2014 this exact situation arose with a player at souffvs Sydney who won the grand final, finally the court proceeding concluded after the grand final. The player was found guilty and the NRL suspended the player under the then soft rules for 20 weeks.

    Now is it fair for the grand final opponents to play against a team with a player who should not of participated❓❔❓❔ What if this particular player had of been awarded the Clive Churchill medal and won the game for them single handedly❓❔❓

    I think and I’m not saying I’m right but if the NRL introduces harsh guide lines from the start of next season, that all players are stood down until court proceedings are dealt with, Then this will act as a further incentive or reminder to every player that if they cause havoc and break the law of the land, then their current season could be over.💪🐔👍

  15. Eelsalmighty I do believe that 100% because it has been true in the recent past.
    1 Hayne allowed to play last season after sexual assault claims in the USA.
    2 Proctor and Bromwich allowed to play after being videoed snorting drugs
    3 Greg Inglis allowed to play after speeding and drink driving.
    4 Kirisome Auva’a allowed to play all season and win a grand final after bashing his woman
    5. Napa allowed to play after being the latest porno star in Australia.
    6. Burgess brothers allowed to play after nude pictures on Sam’s own Facebook account.
    7 Pearce suspended for 8 weeks after drunken behaviour in a private residence.

    I believe all that because that is exactly what has happened.💪🐔👍

  16. Alright, well just of the top of my head, with zero research:
    Hayne wasn’t even charged re the U.S incident, due to a lack of evidence, yet you want him banned for it. His court appearance later in the year by he way is a matter.
    Proctor and Bromwich were both suspended for rep games (I’m not sure how many/how long), fined about $100k each, and if memory serves, Bromwich at least, got a couple of weeks from the club.
    Inglis lost (the newly appointed) Aust. captaincy, and missed the rep games, and I don’t know if there is more to come (at club level).
    Auva’a, you may have me here, but I think (may very well be wrong) his conviction was after the GF?
    Napa – still pending. I feel for the Doggies on this 1.
    Burgess – not found guilty. Call that want you will, but I’m happy to take that on face value.
    Pearce – I actually think he was hard done by to an extent, given I was he media beef up hat made it so dramatic (in my view) but at the same time Edwards got 8 weeks for throwing a drink (the contents only) on his girlfriend.
    I don’t know what you want/expect, but a bit of perespective wouldn’t hurt, surely?

  17. “Stood down until court proceedings are dealt with”.
    Guilty until proven innocent for NRL players, not to mention the (very likely) massive spike in accusations, the toll that would have on the players, their families etc, not to mention the sport.
    You wanted Hayne stood down even though there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him, let alone convict him.

  18. I don’t want anything more than consistency,

    You hit the nail on the head when you say Pearce was hard done by. 8 weeks for being a drunken clown sitting in someone’s lounge room when Greg Inglis loses the captaincy not of Soufffths but Australia. and receives no club suspension. Souufffths obviously condone that behaviour as a captain bit the Roosters did not condone it it with Pearce. But Pearce was not in a position to kill innocent people only get his own head smacked in if some one got cranky with him being a drunken idiot. Ingliss no suspension by the NRL for potentially killing himself and innocent people is not consistent.

    Neither is those two KIWI players getting fined and a very small suspension for taking illegal Drugs. Pearce took legal drugs in alcohol and copped it big time’ the kiwi drug snorters got off far to lightly.

    I have given some perspective views and again all I want and ALL League fans want is consistency when handing out the just punishment. The NRL needs to put an end to favouritism. What are they scared if they ban Inglis for what he deserved 12 weeks, are they afraid they will be called racists or something. They need to grow a backbone.💪🐔👍

  19. Well seems as though some people support Hayne and DeBelin, its people or organisations like the NRL who go soft on these type of imbecilic no hopers and they then think they can go do it again because they got away with it the first time.

    Mate to be fair on all the players teams and fans the NRL need to make it clear and make a stand starting season 2020 to all the players if they get themselves into trouble and are hauled before the court system, then they are automatically stood down until there is a verdict. This will stop the behaviour of players getting drunk and forcing themselves on woman or acting the clown when drunk or taking illegal substances or woman bruised from a player hitting their woman. It will be fair for everyone and they will all keep there nose clean if they want a Rugby League career.

    Players play for 12-14 seasons, its their income and if they choose to do wrong then that income is frozen. Remember every person on Earth make a decision or a choice to either do the right thing or the wrong thing. Life is all about choices. Why would a bloke (De Belin) go out choose to get drunk, choose to pick up a woman while his wife is home with their children, choose to put the hard word on a woman and give her bruising around the neck and other parts of her body and choose to say she let her have his way with her.

    My entire point here is if the NRL get tough with a stance that I suggested, Then A player will choose not to get blind drunk, He will choose not to cheat on his wife and after a social night out of good harmless fun choose to go home to his family. which in turn he chooses not to jeopardise his footy career. 💪🐔👍

  20. I agree with you on consistency, but in so doing it needs to take a host of factors into consideration. The law does, so why shouldn’t the NRL? For example, the legal system considers past records, severity of the action/s (even within the context an actual change) etc.
    You refer to the Pearce incident as “taking legal drugs”, but that’s irrelevant, because that’s not what he was penalised for. His actions caused the problem, not the substance/s that caused those actions. In the case of the “Kiwii players” the incident was the drugs. I don’t know what the court gave them, but I suspect it was a pretty small fine and/or good behaviour, but whatever it was, that was what the law saw fit, and would have given to anyone, but on top of that they got fines of $120k each (I looked it up) plus significant lost incomes.
    That “got off lightly” was up around 100x harsher than the court’s penalty, and they got the court’s penalty too, yet you call it “light”.
    As for the DUI/speeding “could have killed someone” arguememt, well take it up with your MP, because the law doesn’t treat it that way (a fine / loss of license) and I assume/hope an intoxicated NRL player isn’t so vastly more dangerous than the average intoxicated Joe behind the wheel.

  21. Kevin Proctor got a 20k fine and the Titans suspended him 4 games not the 12ok fine you reckon.

    NRLhttps://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/news/proctor-banned-for-four-matches-by-titans/3176212/

  22. I stand corrected on the $120K, because I cant even find where I got that number from again (perhaps I was on something “special” last night).
    That aside, they were punished, and much harder by the NRL / their clubs than the courts.
    We all make mistakes (i can say that now because you’ve just pointed out my first – kidding), and I’m all for making them accountable, but only after they are found guilty, and within reason.

  23. 1972 onwards MODERN DAY STUFF💪🐔👍–5–🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆PREMIERSHIPS,

    9—-🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 MINOR PREMIERSHIPS

    4—-WORLD CLUB CHALLENGE CUPS🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

    Forever in our shadow SHADOW

  24. aNCIENT history

    SOUFFTHS 20 PREMIERSHIPS
    🤣😂😆😁😆😂🤣😂😆😁😁😆😂🤣😂😆😁😆😂🤣😮😮😮😮

Comments are closed.