WITH THE RUGBY World Cup only a fortnight away, the Australian management team is battling to suppress a couple of potentially disruptive scandals, both of which revolve around the behaviour of star winger and full-back James O’Connor.
It emerged last week that the 21-year-old may have been involved in a physical altercation with Wallabies teammates Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper– the latter no stranger to disciplinary action– ahead of a national team match in Paris last year.
The Australian Rugby Union has since announced its failure to find sufficient grounds for action against the trio, but as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Cooper and Beale’s attempts to dismiss the incident as a simple case of “boys being boys” have only inspired a wave of unwelcome press coverage.
Further complicating the situation is news of O’Connor’s non-attendance of two World Cup functions last week. The Melbourne Rebel is believed to have spent Wednesday night drinking with teammates before failing to appear for both the official Wallabies squad unveiling and World Cup photo-call the following morning.
This most recent breach of team protocol has been deemed severe enough to merit a one-week ban and suspended fine of A$10,000. The suspension leaves Australia without its first-choice place-kicker for this weekend’s Tri-Nations decider with New Zealand.
Read the full of the ARU’s investigation of the Cooper, Beale and O’Connor in the Sydney Morning Herald>