Friday’s rugby news sees another JOC controversy, some Shute Shield banter, a worrying claim of ‘widespread’ steroid use in Scotland and some Aviva updates.
O’Connor in trouble again
James O’Connor’s latest disciplinary breach could not come at a worse time, according to Wallabies captain James Horwill. O’Connor was escorted from Perth airport at around 5am on Sunday. The Wallabies winger is denying being intoxicated, despite allegations from the Australian Federal Police, but did admit to engaging in a heated argument over seating arrangements for himself and his girlfriend. O’Connor’s actions let the side down at a ‘critical moment’ for Australian Rugby, according to Horwill, who added, ‘The team has got strong values that we want to uphold as being Wallabies and being representatives of your country.’
The new culture of Australian rugby purported by Ewen McKenzie will be put to the test in the wake of this off-field incident. This is because McKenziee is also under heavy pressure to improve the Wallabies’ performances in upcoming matches. What should the punishment be for yet another indiscretion? Let us know in the comments below.
Facebook battle highlights Shute Shield anger
Sydney Uni’s Shute Shield victory has prompted an intense, and hilarious, social media dispute. As high-profile Uni players were out on Mad Monday, Liam O’Meara posted on Facebook, ‘Sydney University are ruining Australian club rugby.’ The post can be found here, which Green and Gold Rugby reposted on September 17, before many comments were deleted by now-sober Uni players.
From The Golden Sheaf, a Wallaby and two Super Rugby players rushed to their side’s defence but were beaten down mercilessly by the peanut gallery. A personal favourite of mine from Liam O’Meara: ‘you guys are obviously a really close knit team ay… All sitting on Facebook on mad Monday.’ This came after a high profile player emphasised Uni’s culture as the key for success, a culture he witnessed first hand all season with the Waratahs.
Steroids rampant in Scottish rugby
A worrying BBC article has reported that at least two players at every club in Scottish Rugby’s top amateur tiers are using banned substances. An anonymous player on a Scottish National League side has alleged that drug use is ‘widespread’, occurring in Premiership, National League and Championship A and B clubs. While Former British and Irish Lions prop Peter Wright doubts the extent of this anecdotal evidence, he did acknowledge that young players are being increasingly pressured to bulk up or risk being left behind at selection time, with skills often seen as secondary to size.
The SRU stressed that it has an extensive testing program and was continuing to work diligently to discourage dangerous illegal substances. ‘Since the 2009-2010 season, there have been around 800 drugs tests in Scottish Rugby, at all levels of the game and, in that period, there have now been two adverse findings,’ said a spokesman.
Lengthy suspension for Aviva stomping
Gloucester prop Nick Wood has received an eight-week ban for stamping on the head of Saracen’s flanker Jacques Burger in the opening minutes of last weekend’s match. The cellar-dwelling Gloucester side will be without Wood’s services for five league matches and two Heineken Cup fixtures.
In other Aviva news, the Sale Sharks have recalled five-eighth Danny Cipriani for their upcoming match against London Wasps. After being excluded in the first two matches, the former international was promoted to the bench.
And just quickly, Ulster scrum-half and South African international Ruan Pienaar has reportedly signed with French club Toulon on a lucrative two-year deal. The place-kicking scrum-half was named in the Pro12 Team of the Year for two consecutive seasons.