Beale fined but avoids further ban for texts
SYDNEY (AP) — Kurtley Beale has been fined 45,000 Australian dollars ($40,000) for sending an offensive photograph to a female Australian Rugby Union employee but has avoided tougher sanctions that could have included termination of his contract.
An independent tribunal found Beale guilty of a serious violation of the code of conduct for the offensive text to the team’s business manager in June, but decided there was not enough evidence to establish a second more offensive message was sent by Beale, an ARU statement said late Friday.
The Wallabies utility back apologized to the former business manager, Di Patston, and the Australian rugby community.
“I ... will work to regain the respect of my teammates, fans and the general Australian community,” Beale said in a statement. “I am satisfied with tonight’s outcome. There was conjecture about my contract being terminated, however the tribunal agreed that on the basis of the evidence that a fine was appropriate. I’m relieved there is no termination and no suspension and I can now continue playing rugby.”
The issue has overshadowed Australian rugby for weeks.
The text messages were revealed during an investigation into Beale’s heated argument with Patston on a flight from South Africa to Argentina during the Rugby Championship.
Beale was suspended — missing test losses to Argentina and New Zealand — and Patston quit. The saga also resulted in coach Ewen McKenzie quitting immediately after last weekend’s last-minute 29-28 loss to the All Blacks after heavy media scrutiny of his management of the Wallabies squad and his working relationship with Patston.
Michael Cheika was appointed to replace McKenzie this week, and the 33-man Wallabies squad left on Friday for a five-match tour to Europe.
Beale was not in the squad, but was available for selection immediately, ending speculation that his contract may be torn up.
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said he would accept the tribunal findings.
“This was a serious allegation and like any business, when we received that complaint we were compelled to investigate it and give Kurtley Beale an opportunity to present his case,” Pulver said. “This was deemed a serious violation by the tribunal and as such, we intend to donate the $45,000 collected through this fine to a suitable organization that promotes the empowerment of women.”
Pulver said negotiations on Beale’s contract beyond 2015, which had been put on hold in recent weeks, would re-open.