Beale and Vuna suspended following alleged brawl
March 24, 2013
The Sharks overpowered the Rebels in Durban
Melbourne Rebels have stood down Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna and sent them home from their tour of South Africa as a result of an internal investigation into an incident in Durban on Saturday night.
The Rebels launched a probe after it emerged that Beale may have punched Vuna in an altercation on the team bus following their franchise-record 64-7 defeat by the Sharks. Officials initially refused to name the individuals involved but tweets subsequently deleted by Vuna suggested Beale had assaulted him.
"I need to leave right now, this ain't for me! I tried to help someone but got punched so instead of putting him in hospital il [sic] leave!" Vuna posted at 1.27am local time (11.27am AEDT).
Rebels captain Gareth Delve is reported to have demanded that Beale put his shirt back on before the team bus reached the hotel, after the players had visited a nightclub near their hotel. Beale then is reported to have became abusive to Delve, at which point Vuna tried to intervene and was punched.
Head coach Damien Hill has since confirmed that both Beale and Vuna had broken team protocols and as a result cannot be part of the team until the disciplinary process is complete. "The club will not tolerate this type of behaviour and I am embarrassed for everyone associated with building this club," Hill said.
Chief executive Steven Boland said both Beale and Vuna were contracted Wallabies and as a consequence the Rebels had been liaising with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), and would continue to do so in the best interests of the Rebels and Australian rugby.
"There can be no excuses for the disrespect shown to the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Club by these players," Boland said. "The expectation of the Club and our supporters is that the management and players in South Africa focus immediately on their task of making amends for the poor on field performance in Durban on Saturday by making us all proud in Bloemfontein next weekend."
Beale, who has been linked with a return to New South Wales Waratahs and a switch to rugby league, is no stranger to controversy; he faces assault allegations arising from an incident in Brisbane last year where he is alleged to have struck a bouncer. The ARU postponed a disciplinary process until the police investigation was resolved, meaning he was clear to continue to play.
Reports of the confrontation came after Hill had questioned whether his players had pride in the jersey. "Our guys just didn't show up and it's quite embarrassing to be honest," Hill said after his side's mauling at King's Park. "It's probably the worst defeat I've ever been associated with through the club, and I'm really questioning the pride these guys have in the jersey. Even though it's a new team, you've got to be prepared to leave blood on the field when you're playing a team like the Sharks. And our guys didn't."
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