Kurtley Beale survives axe

2014-10-24 14:21
Kurtley Beale and Ewen McKenzie (Getty Images)
Sydney - Utility back Kurtley Beale has been fined A$45 00 for sending an offensive text, but has escaped a ban after being cleared of sending a second "more offensive" photograph, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said on Friday.

The 25-year-old, who has played 47 times for his country, was accused of sending "deeply offensive" text messages about team business manager Di Patston, following a heated row on a flight for a Test against Argentina in June and was suspended pending tribunal.

Patston resigned because of stress and the affair also led to the resignation of coach Ewen McKenzie, who had brought her into the Wallabies set up from the Reds.

There had been speculation that Beale could have his contract terminated but he is now free to play with immediate effect.

The tribunal found that while a serious violation of the ARU's code of conduct had occurred, there was no evidence that a second "more offensive text and photograph" had been sent by Beale and mitigating factors were taken into account to determine an appropriate sanction.

"These include Beale's contrition; the unpleasant consequences the matter had created for the ARU employee and Beale; and the fact that Beale had already effectively been suspended from recent matches," the ARU said in a statement.

"This was deemed a serious violation by the tribunal and as such, we intend to donate the A$45 000 collected through this fine to a suitable organisation that promotes the empowerment of women.

"Negotiations regarding Kurtley's contract beyond this year have been on hold in recent weeks. As a result of the independent tribunal's decision, we will re-open those contract discussions."

Beale said: "I am satisfied with tonight's outcome. There was conjecture about my contract being terminated, however the tribunal agreed that on the basis of the evidence that a fine was appropriate and I am relieved there is no termination and no suspension and I can now continue playing rugby.

"I'm also happy the evidence presented to the tribunal did not establish that I sent the second text and photograph. This is why I fought so hard to prove my innocence regarding that text.

"I'd like to apologise to Di Patston and the broader community for my behaviour and will work to re-gain the respect of my team mates, fans and the general Australian community."

A supremely gifted back who was first signed by the Waratahs as a 16-year-old schoolboy, Beale has played at flyhalf, centre, winger and fullback for the Wallabies since he won his first cap in 2009.

He has had his fair share of off-field problems as well, most notably when he was suspended by the Melbourne Rebels for punching two team-mates after a match in South Africa last year.

A further breach of the team's "protocols" led to his effective dismissal and he had a spell in a Sydney clinic dealing with "issues relating to alcohol".

He revived his career under new Wallabies coach Michael Cheika this year at the Waratahs, who he helped lead to their maiden Super Rugby title.

Beale is also out of contract at the end of the season and been linked with a move to a European club or rugby league.

Read more on:    wallabies  |  kurtley beale  |  rugby

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