Jan de Koning reflects on some of the game’s more ignoble characters.
Australia, with the axing of James O’Connor and the ban of six other Wallabies on the year-end tour, dominated the ‘bad boy’ headlines this past year.
But is the off-field indiscretions really worse Down Under than anywhere in the world?
It took some digging, but I came up with a list of unsavoury characters that would make an interesting World XV!
Then there is an extensive list that came close, but just wasn’t bad enough.
The bad boys XV:
15 – Kurtley Beale (Australia):
He has been involved in quite a few drunken late night brawls – including hitting a security guard. But in his most recent he punched Gareth Delve, his Melbourne Rebels captain, on the team bus on a tour in Durban. he was forced into treatment for an alcohol-related behaviour disorder. Even when he was recalled, he was unable to avoid controversy and was pictured in a burger bar at 03.50 just days before the second Lions Test.
14 – Zac Guildford (New Zealand):
Another player who first hit rock bottom – including striking a patron in a bar on an alcohol-fuelled night out during the World Cup and then also took off all his clothes in public and was accused of sexually harassing a woman. Following another alcohol-fuelled series of incidents, he apologized for his actions and admitted to alcoholism. Like Beale, he received treatment.
13 – Mike Tindall (England):
He had some tough competition, but being married to a royal – Zara Phillips, the daughter of the Princess Royal and the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – his drunken binge at the 2011 World Cup was inexcusable. It made a big contribution to England’s tarnished reputation – a drunken night out that included dwarf tossing and fondling a female friend in public. It ended his Test career.
12 – Gavin Henson (Wales):
Another position where the competition was tough. But they don’t get much worse than Henson, who got into fights with teammates on more than just one occasion. Controversy is never far for a player who admitted abusing two bouncers on a night out in 2005, was questioned by police for drunken behaviour on a train in 2007 and was warned about his future conduct after drunken antics on a night out in February 2009. Then there is the well-documented incident when he was punched, out cold, by a Bath teammate. And last year Henson apologised after being suspended by Cardiff Blues over an alcohol-fuelled incident on a plane as the team returned from a Pro12 match in Scotland.
11 – Wendell Sailor (Australia):
The code-hopper had a big price-tag and certainly lived up to his ‘bad boy’ image when he came from Rugby League. Apart from a litany of different indiscretions – ranging from public drunkenness to road rage and nightclub altercations with teammates – he edged all the other wingers when he tested positive for cocaine use in 2006 and was subsequently banned from playing for two years.
10 – Quade Cooper (Australia):
There was a reason why Robbie Deans dumped the ‘toxic’ – but insanely talented – flyhalf. His antics include smashing a taxi cab window and yelling abuse outside a nightclub, while in 2009 he was arrested and charged with burglary following a night out in which he robbed two laptops at a residence on Australia’s Gold Coast.
9 – Danny Care (England):
Again there were multiple and some very good options, but Care scored the worst hat-trick ever – arrested and cautioned for three drink-related offences in the space of three months in 2012. He was arrested first for being drunk and disorderly, then drunk driving and finally for relieving himself in public – all while he was involved in a court case for charges of sexual assault.
8 – Andy Powell (Wales):
Powell first hit the headlines in 2010 after taking a golf buggy from his team hotel, following a Six Nations match, and drunkenly driving it to an M4 services to get some snacks. Powell later left Wasps by mutual consent following an investigation into a bar brawl that left him bloodied and bruised in 2011.
7 – Jerry Collins (New Zealand):
He was arrested in August for disorderly behaviour in central Wellington, the same day he abused hospital staff, and a few months earlier he had been arrested in Japan for carrying a deadly weapon in public. Collins was arrested after he abused staff in a Courtenay Place takeaway bar and a drunken Collins threw a half-eaten kebab on the ground a couple of metres from the arresting officers. In March Collins was arrested in Japan after entering a department store carrying two 17cm knives. He later paid a fine and claimed he was running from the Japanese mafia.
6 – Trevor Brennan (Ireland):
He was slapped with a life ban, later reduced to five years, when he leapt into the stands and repeatedly struck Patrick Bamford in the face. Brennan claimed he had erupted after abuse towards his mother, although an investigation found no such abuse took place and that Brennan had been baited over the poor quality of the bar he owned in Toulouse.
5 – Justin Harrison (Australia):
He sparked the infamous Bath cocaine saga, when he made quips over the microphone of the team bus about taking Class A substances, following the team’s notorious end-of-season party in May 2009. Harrison admitted to taking cocaine, retired quickly after the incident and was banned for eight months. He also used racial slurs towards South African wing Chumani Booi in 2005, while playing for the Waratahs against the Cats. And then there was the well-documented running feud between him and the B&I Lions wing Austin Healey in 2001, after Healey called him an “ape”, a “plank” and a “plod”.
4 – Paddy Mayne (Ireland):
He’s the ‘enforcer’. He earned his reputation when, on the 1938 B&I Lions tour of South Africa, he repeatedly broke into teammates’ rooms in the middle of the night and destroyed their furniture. For added value, with Welsh hooker Bunner Travers, he used to head to the docks with the sole intention on picking a fight. His tour ended when he returned to the hotel with a dead antelope over his shoulder.
3 – Keith Murdoch (New Zealand):
He became the first All Black to be sent home from a tour, under controversial and mysterious circumstances. He scored the All Blacks’ only try in their 1972 win against Wales in Cardiff, but later the same night was involved in a fracas in which he punched security guard Peter Grant, knocking him to the ground, as he attempted to enter into the famous rugby watering hole, The Angel Hotel – which was closed at the time. He never returned home and disappeared into obscurity into the Australian Outback.
2 – Andrew Hore (New Zealand):
No, this is not for his penchant to have a few quiet beers the night before a game and also not for his cheap shot that hospitalised Welsh lock Bradley Davies. In 2005 his career was nearly ended, following a court case in which he was convicted and fined for shooting and killing protected fur seals. The Judge described the offence as a “grossly irresponsible, spontaneous act of hooliganism”.
1 – Matt Stevens (England):
Just months before the infamous Bath sage in 2009, Stevens produced a positive drugs test (the substance was, you guessed it, cocaine) and was subsequently banned from the game for two years. He admitted that he was hooked on a recreational drug and underwent counselling, returning to the game in 2011.
Replacements: We have a very lengthy bench, which includes many players ‘lucky’ not to have made the starting XV. We list them in no particular order.
* Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa): Was arrested at a routine police road block on suspicion that his blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit. His case is pending.
* Ricky Januarie (South Africa): Was ordered to perform 20 hours of community service, following a plea bargain over his drunk driving charge. Januarie was ordered to coach rugby at schools selected by the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Re-integration of Offenders.
* James O’Connor (Australia): A drunken O’Connor appeared to have forgotten his name when he asked flight staff if they knew who he was at the Perth airport. That was after he had already been dumped by the Rebels over his booze binges and subsequently had his Wallaby contract torn up.
* Mike Phillips (Wales): Caught in a series of nightclub brawls and had to apologise to his team after a bust-up with cops outside a Cardiff burger bar.
* Mathieu Bastareaud (France): Claimed to have been beaten up by four or five men while in New Zealand. However, CCTV footage showed that was not the case and he later admitted he sustained the injuries after drunkenly falling over in his hotel room.
* Danny Cipriani (England): Accused of stealing booze from a Melbourne nightclub, then a few booze-tinged incidents later, he was hit by a London bus in 2013 while out on the lash.
* Julian Savea (New Zealand): Arrested and charged for domestic violence towards his girlfriend.
* Willie Anderson (Ireland): Caused a major diplomatic incident when the drunken Irishman decided it would be a good idea to steal an Argentinian flag from a Government building during a rugby tour there. He was charged and appeared in court.
* Digby Ioane (Australia): A warrant was issued for the arrest of the star wing, after he missed a date with a magistrate following a scuffle in a Melbourne hotel in March. A few days later he tweeted a gangster-style photo of himself posing in a spa with a group of players including, you guessed it, Beale, Cooper and O’Connor.
* Willie Ripia (New Zealand): Dumped by the Western Force after he was caught stealing from his own teammates in the dressing room to fuel his gambling habits.
* Sean Maitland (Scotland): Was charged with assault in Glasgow, relating to a late-night kebab shop brawl in which he put a man in hospital.
* Byron Kelleher (New Zealand): He was involved in a number of drink driving, booze-filled incidents in France. In the most recent incident he was stopped by police in Bordeaux after he was alleged to be driving on the wrong side of the road while four times over the legal alcohol limit.
* Manu Tuilagi (England): Jumped off a ferry into Auckland harbour after England’s World Cup exit.
* James Haskell (England): Made inappropriate comments to a female hotel worker in New Zealand, while making a video spoof.
* Chris Ashton: Like Haskell, he is accused of making inappropriate comments to a female hotel worker in New Zealand. Not sure who held the camera.
* Alex Crockett, Andrew Higgins and Michael Lipman terminated their own contracts with Bath in 2009 after allegedly refusing to take a drug test following allegations of drug-taking. They all received nine-month bans in the infamous Bath cocaine saga.
* Cory Jane (New Zealand): Went on a booze binge just 72 hours before the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal against Argentina.
* Jimmy Cowan (New Zealand): Several arrests for oafish behaviour while drunk in 2008 saw him slapped with a NZ$3000 fine by the NZRU.
* Six Wallabies made a late bid for inclusion after they were involved in a late-night drinking session. in November. Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Liam Gill and Paddy Ryan each sat out a one-match ban.
Referee – Steve Walsh (Australia):
Was kicked out by his own refereeing society in New Zealand, after a number of alcohol-fuelled incidents, including arriving at a morning session intoxicated. Resurrected his career in Australia.
Coach – Alex Wylie (New Zealand):
The Grizz arrived intoxicated at a Transvaal training session (when he coached the Johannesburg-based team briefly in 1996) and hurled abuse at the players.
Manager – Mathew Vaea (Samoa):
He tarnished his own chiefly title of “tuala” – that was bestowed on him by his village in Samoa – by excessive drinking while the Samoan team manager at the 2011 World Cup. Samoan leaders in the Leauva’a village ordered him to pay 100 pigs.
Stadium – Kings Park (South Africa)
No place for a post-match party like Durban and the outer fields at Kings Park. Cemented its place with a the death of former Royal Marine Brett Williams. Four men – brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, and Dustin van Wyk – each face one charge of murder, three of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, and one of crimen injuria. Their case is scheduled for Match.
* Did we miss anybody? What changes would you make to our team?