Group 2’s junior management has been vindicated over their actions following a player substitution scandal.
Group 2’s junior management has been vindicated over their actions following a player substitution scandal.

League club have appeal dismissed

THE club found to have breached the code of conduct when a suspended player took the field under an assumed name has lost an appeal against the bond imposed by Group 2 Junior Rugby League’s management committee.

However, a ban restricting the club to conducting matches on no more than two fields at the one time has been lifted by an independent appeals panel.

The long-running investigation into a July 31 junior match found a player stood down for two weeks for a breach of representative rules had played in a winning side under instructions from his coach and he had also signed the player sheet, assuming the identity of a team-mate who was not present.

The coach was immediately stood down for the remainder of the 2010 season with the suspension extended to include the entire 2011 season.

While the Group determined the coach was the major influence in the breach of the rules, the club had a $2000 bond imposed until to the end of 2011.

“Any breaches to the Codes of Conduct by any player, team official, club member, parent, spectator or club management will see the (name withheld) club surrender its bond and front the 2011 management committee,” the written judgement declared.

No further action was taken against the player involved apart from recommending he undertake training as a Leaguesafe officer or referee to give him insight into the role officials play in the game.

The judgement also named the team manager involved but no direct action was taken against him.

“(The manager) will honour the spirit and letter of the competition rules and live up to the highest ideals of ethics and sportsmanship, avoid gamesmanship and respect the tradition of the game,” the judgement read.

“He must understand that the game of rugby league is more important than the Australian tradition of supporting an illegal act by a mate, whether that mate be a player, a coach or a member of his club.”

In the original judgement, Group 2 was scathing of the club’s attitude toward the investigation and moved to justify the lengthy process undertaken.

“We had good reason to defer the executive’s decision and not apply it to your club until after the grand final as we put the interest of the players from your club first and didn’t wish to spoil their big day,” it said.

“Your club’s breaches of the codes of conduct are of the most serious level and surely you must understand that there is no excuse for your actions.

“We consider that the investigations, actions and response in this very serious matter by your executive as disappointing.”

Retiring JRL president Stephen Spear said the decision to restrict the club to running no more than two fields at once so unruly behaviour and management difficulties could be minimised, was rescinded on appeal.

Group 2 had already offered to review the matter midway through the 2011 season if the club could demonstrate its ability to manage more than two grounds running simultaneously.

“The panel felt it was too unwieldy and we’d be there until 9pm running games if that decision was allowed to stand,” he said.

While Spear said he was comfortable with the outcome of the appeal he reiterated the Group was satisfied it was necessary to take strong action for what was considered an unusual and unjustifiable breach of the code of conduct.

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