Brumbies players await punishment
March 21, 2000

Three world champion Wallabies are among five ACT Brumbies rugby players facing serious disciplinary action over a drunken rampage in South Africa on Sunday.

The Australian Rugby Union Tuesday said it was also ready to pounce if punishment handed out by the Brumbies was not strict enough. Wallabies Joe Roff, Rod Kafer and Owen Finegan and their ACT teammates Bill Young and Peter Ryan damaged a taxi after a night's drinking in Cape Town, during which they were also accused of swearing and disruption in a restaurant.

A disappointed Brumbies coach Eddie Jones said the players had drunk too much and their inexcusable behaviour had brought disrepute to the code, which has largely maintained a clean public image.

"We realise these actions by our team have certainly put rugby in a bad light and we're disappointed with that," Jones told ABC radio here.

"Obviously we're very disappointed - we set ourselves high standards on and off the field and we've let ourselves down very badly and everyone in the team is very remorseful for the actions of a few members."

The five players Tuesday night sat through a telephone hook-up hearing with the ACT Rugby Union's (ACTRU) judiciary committee which hoped to bring down a sentence within 48 hours.

Options include sending the players home, suspension or fine. But the ARU said if it was not satisfied with the punishment handed out, it would appeal. Under International Rugby Board regulations, the ACTRU has responsibility for all its disciplinary matters but the ARU, concerned about the first case of serious misconduct by top players in many years, has the right of appeal.

"We're extremely concerned about the incident, however we have every faith the ACT Rugby Union will take the appropriate action given the seriousness of the allegations," ARU chief executive John O'Neill said.

"The ARU is proud of rugby's record and the working of our code of conduct which Australian teams have adhered to for many years."

ACTRU general manager Mark Sinderberry said the players had disgraced not only themselves and their teammates, but also their families and the entire game of rugby.

"This is a very sad and really quite a black day for rugby," Sinderberry said. "I don't think we've ever faced a more serious day."

The breakdown in team discipline followed the Brumbies' impressive 29-15 Super 12 win over the Stormers on Saturday night - the ACT side's first victory on South African soil in five years. Jones said there had been a separate incident in a restaurant on the night of the game when one player had pushed another and knocked over a chair.

But more serious was to come the following night when the five players drank too much, said Jones.

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