Wallabies discipline 15 for violating drinking rules

Coach Ewen McKenzie reads the riot act after squad members drank late into the night ahead of test against Ireland

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 November, 2013, 11:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 11:28pm

Australia have suspended six players for one match and sanctioned another nine for "breaches of internal team protocols" after a drinking session in the days leading up to last Saturday's test against Ireland, the team said.

"Everyone in our squad is required to comply with and adhere to high standards of ethical conduct both on and off the field," coach Ewen McKenzie said on Monday.

"Those standards were compromised in the lead-up to Saturday's victory over Ireland with a group of players making the decision to stay out late and consume inappropriate levels of alcohol during the early hours of Wednesday morning."

Wingers Adam Ashley-Cooper and Nick Cummins, front-rowers Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson, and backrower Liam Gill have been stood down for this Saturday's test against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Front-rower Paddy Ryan has given a one-game ban, but will serve his suspension in the final tour match, against Wales in Cardiff on November 30 because international rules state that all squads must contain at least four props. Australia have only five in their touring party of 32.

McKenzie gave written disciplinary warnings to Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga'a, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps, while Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and Nic White received verbal warnings.

"Let's be clear - these are internal sanctions and aren't a result of any complaints or reports of inappropriate or sinister behaviour while our players were out," said McKenzie, whose team beat Ireland 32-15.

"Instead, we have chosen to address an issue that has come up internally and we are now being up front about it.

"We've done this because we need to continually reinforce the need for our players to make smart decisions to benefit the team. The worst thing you could do for the Wallabies in the long-term is do nothing, because that would mean we would be ignoring poor culture and a significant performance issue.

"We will always take action in relation to examples of poor culture when it's warranted - doing nothing to address poor behaviour will never be an option. We've taken on the challenge of re-defining our team culture."

In September James O'Connor was dropped from the Australia squad after he was thrown out of Perth airport after an alcohol-related row with staff, while Kurtley Beale spent time in rehab earlier in the year after a drinking suspension from his club.